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.
Washington State athletics has placed a temporary freeze on new hires, non-essential travel, purchases and more because "each Pac‑12 university will see a significant decrease in revenue distribution" to make up for previous overpayments from media partners.
Prez Kirk Schulz: pic.twitter.com/N9D22MLiyH
— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 23, 2023
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.