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Larry Scott to step down as Pac-12 commissioner this summer

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FILE: In this Oct. 7, 2019, file photo, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott speaks to reporters during the Pac-12 Conference women’s NCAA college basketball media day in San Francisco.

AP

Larry Scott, who has served as Pac-12 commissioner since 2009, has agreed to part ways with the league, the conference announced Wednesday.

He will remain in the role through June 30 to help assist in the transition to a new commissioner, and the search for his successor will begin immediately. Sports Business Journal first reported the news.

A Pac-12 executive committee will commence a national search for his replacement. The committee includes Oregon president Michael Schill as chair, Washington State president Kirk H. Schulz and Washington president Ana Mari Cauce.

Scott’s existing contract was set to expire in June 2022. The conference announced the decision was made at this time to get Scott’s successor in position to negotiate the conference’s next long-term media rights agreement.

“We appreciate Larry’s pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences,” Schill said in a statement. “At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to US and global markets on traditional and digital platforms. That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn’t remain static and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy.”

During Scott’s tenure, the league went through several important changes, including the addition of two schools, Utah and Colorado, which allowed the conference to create a football championship game. The league also secured a 12-year, $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN in 2011. The Pac-12 created a conference television network, the Pac-12 Networks, as well and agreed to equal revenue sharing for the first time under the new deal. Those contracts are up in 2024.

This helped propel conference revenue from approximately $100 million to close to $500 million a year, according to the league.

There were also things that marred Scott’s time as commissioner, notably the league’s inability to get the Pac-12 Networks widely distributed, particularly on DirecTV. The Pac-12 also fell behind in revenue distribution when compared to other Power Five conferences. Even with Pac-12 revenues steadily rising in recent years, the conference’s distribution (more than $32 million per school) after the 2018-19 academic year fell well behind the Big Ten ($55 million per school) and SEC ($45 million per school), according to the Associated Press.

“I was in pro sports for 20 years, I’ve now been in college athletics for more than 10 years, and now is a great time in my life to pursue other exciting opportunities,” Scott said in a statement. “This moment, when college athletics are moving in a new direction and with the Conference soon commencing the next round of media negotiations, it seems the right time to make a change. It is important that the conference be able to put in place the person who will negotiate and carry out that next agreement.

“Based on the recent robust valuation and marketplace interest we’ve received from traditional and nontraditional media organizations, I am confident the conference is well-positioned for continued success. I appreciate the support of the Pac-12 member institutions and a very talented staff, with whom it has been my privilege to work.”