Last night, news broke that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott would be leaving after more than a decade spent in the role.
This has been long-awaited for many Pac-12 fans and, based on the fact that Scott’s departure was “mutual” and indeed likely a foregone conclusion whether he wanted to leave or not, plenty within the Pac-12 institutions.
From our Matt Clapp’s post last night:
The much-maligned Scott has faced enormous criticism over the years for the failures of the Pac-12 Network(s), which has had very limited availability since launching in 2012. The Pac-12 Network still doesn’t have a carriage deal with DirecTV, which means that the channel(s) can’t even be found at most sports bars in America.
The Pac-12 announced that the decision to part ways with Scott was accelerated “in part, to allow a new commissioner to be in place to negotiate and maximize the Conference’s next important long-term media rights agreement.” The conference has deals with ESPN and Fox that end in 2023-24:
“The decision was made well in advance of next year’s contract expiration, in part, to allow a new commissioner to be in place to negotiate and maximize the Conference’s next important long-term media rights agreement.”
Scott, who drew an annual $4 million salary and plenty of other benefits, doesn’t sound incredibly introspective about the network distribution failure, which will always hang over any look back at his tenure in charge. Speaking to Nicole Auerback of The Athletic, Scott excused the issues as byproducts of hindsight.
In fact, he attempted to retcon the entire operation as a success based on what the initial conference leadership wanted. (The article is behind a paywall, but Nicole shared these quotes on Twitter so we’re including them here. It’s worth reading the whole thing.)
“At the time, we had 100 percent alignment amongst our presidents, athletic directors and us about our objectives,” Scott said. “The Pac-12 Networks was largely about giving opportunity and exposure to our Olympic sports that weren’t getting any. It wasn’t about money or distributing football games, which, prior to that, were distributed just on local regional sports networks. But hindsight is awesome.”
Well then, mission accomplished! Hey, you know what would have offered the most exposure for Olympic sports? Wider distribution of the network! Or what would have offered more revenue opportunities for those sports? Distribution deals based off of revenue-generating sports that helped, you know, generate and maximize revenue for the league’s athletic departments! (Also, pointing at any kind of altruism mission feels hollow considering Scott’s own personal compensation and lavish spending elsewhere.)
Here’s more from Scott, talking about why now was the right time to leave:
Larry Scott opened up about the first five years of his tenure vs. the last 5-6, what's been hard and why administrators are leaving college sports right now. (Definitely sounds like he is DONE with college sports.) https://t.co/25iyzALA9Q pic.twitter.com/hmFa79Tu52
— Nicole Auerbach ? (@NicoleAuerbach) January 21, 2021
That’s a hell of a spin for someone who was almost certainly being shown the door whether or not he wanted to stay.
A while back, after Scott embarked on a non-starter plan to sell 10% of the Pac-12’s media company to raise cash, a plan that predictably went nowhere, Scott offered this gem of a quote that feels especially relevant:
Scott said the response [to the initial private equity offer] “has convinced me and our members that we’re sitting on a lot of unrealized value, and we have reason to be confident when our rights become available.
After a decade or so in charge, it’s probably time to offer some reasons as to why all that value remained unrealized. Scott never did then, and pointing to hindsight now on his way out is in a similar vein. For as much money as he made and continues to make, it’s fair to expect some foresight, too.