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Report: Commissioner, other Pac-12 officials received bonuses before layoffs, furloughs

SHARE Report: Commissioner, other Pac-12 officials received bonuses before layoffs, furloughs
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Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott speaks to the media at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2014.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A month before about half of the Pac-12 staff was either furloughed or laid off because of COVID-19, the conference’s commissioner and other executives and managers received performance bonuses, according to The San Jose Mercury News.

Though no official figures have been released — and won’t be for some time — the combined bonuses were likely around $4 million, the News’ Pac-12 writer Jon Wilner reported.

That total included a large bonus for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who received $2.2 million in bonuses and incentives as part of his $5 million salary package for 2019.

Other bonuses were from the four- and lower-five-figure range and much higher for the 10 highest-paid employees who split $1.35 million in bonuses last year, Wilner wrote.

The bonuses were delivered in July, a month before the Pac-12 fired or furloughed 94 of 196 employees, per the report. A conference spokesperson told Wilner that the bonus payment timeline was moved up in hopes of retaining key employees and supporting those who were taking on announced salary reductions.

Sports columnist John Canzano of The Oregonian took Scott to task for accepting his bonus ahead of taking jobs away from so many.

“Real leaders don’t take lucrative paydays when they’re about to lay off staff. Most of them will forgo the annual bonus. That’s what being a leader is about,” Conzano wrote.

“What Scott could have done is announce that he wasn’t taking a dime of his $2.5 million bonus. Also, the commissioner could have paid back his outstanding $1.9 million interest-free loan in a lump sum. He hasn’t yet made a payment. The commissioner might have saved jobs with those moves.”

That, a furloughed Pac-12 staffer told Canzano, “would have been a decent gesture.”

The columnist noted that Utah’s entire athletic department took various furloughs, and that both Oregon and Oregon State laid off dozens.

Canzano quoted an anonymous longtime Pac-12 executive, who was also upset that Scott took the bonus while the conference’s schools struggled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“He could have been a hero,” the executive told Canzano. “But nope.”