Feb 1, 2017; Pullman, WA, USA; The PAC 12 logo on the court before the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington State Cougars at Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 and its member schools are feeling the financial squeeze from the conference’s ongoing distribution scandal, with Comcast seeking restitution after years of overpaying for television rights. A 2017 audit revealed Comcast had overpaid by upwards of $50 million, an amount the company is now withholding, prompting Washington State’s current hiring freeze within the athletic department.

The Cougars will also pause all “non-essential travel, purchases and professional development,” system president Kirk Schulz announced in a statement released Monday.

Schools are preparing to lose at least $4 million in revenue this year, the latest setback for a mismanaged conference embroiled in controversy. The Comcast debacle has already cost many top executives their jobs including Pac-12 Networks president Mark Shuken and CFO Brent Willman, both of whom were aware of the overpayment but did little to address it. Former commissioner Larry Scott turned a similar blind eye to chaos, amassing over $50 million in combined salary and severance pay over his 11 years at the Pac-12 helm. Budgets have been stretched even thinner by the Pac-12’s relocation efforts, recently announcing plans to move its office headquarters from San Francisco to Bishop Ranch Business Park in nearby San Ramon.

With Los Angeles schools UCLA and USC departing the conference next year, the Pac-12 faces an uncertain future clouded by realignment, NIL deals, mass transfers and broadcast rights, among other complicating factors. The tightening grip of Comcast won’t help any, with plenty more financial and legal dominoes to fall in the coming months.


About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.