Following the Pac-12’s postponement of fall sports, the conference enacted another round of layoffs and furloughs at both the Pac-12 Networks and the conference’s offices themselves.
According to the Oregonian, 79 individuals were furloughed and another 15 lost their jobs. Among those let go was the whole digital team at the Pac-12 Networks, responsible for the social media, app, and web presences of the conference-centric network. The Pac-12 Network’s main Twitter account hasn’t tweeted since Tuesday afternoon.
It’s fair to point out that the conference is losing revenue without fall sports, and that costs needed to be cut. But this is the second round of layoffs this year for the conference, while pay cuts initially implemented earlier this year were extended for a full year over the summer. Commissioner Larry Scott, who made $5.3 million last year, isn’t increasing the pay cut he took earlier this year, nor are other executives.
The rent paid by the Pac-12 for their headquarters is also another source of wasted money for the conference, and one that has been harped on for years. ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura pointed that out again on Wednesday, noted that the conference paid over five times more in “occupancy expenses” than the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC *combined*.
From 2018 990 tax returns
Big 12 $173,711
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) August 27, 2020
The decision to base the conference’s offices in San Francisco stands in stark contrast to the other Power 5 conferences, who are headquartered in suburbs (Irving, Texas and Rosemont, Illinois for the Big 12 and Big 10, respectively) or smaller cities (Birmingham, Alabama and Greensboro, North Carolina for the SEC and ACC, respectively). It would have been much more fiscally responsible for the Pac-12 to plant their flag elsewhere in the conference’s massive footprint rather than downtown San Francisco.
Many companies are feeling the pinch and are being forced to make tough decisions on personnel. But while some companies deserve more sympathy than others, the Pac-12 isn’t one of them. The conference has shown that it is terrible with money, and has even claimed that the point of the Pac-12 Networks isn’t to make money. It’s easy to see why the Pac-12 is in the situation its in and the pandemic has just amplified its poor decisions. Unfortunately, the conference’s executives who are most complicit in those decisions weren’t the ones who paid the price this week.