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Pac-12 announces departure of Commissioner Larry Scott

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. Scott is stepping down at the end of June 2021, ending an 11-year tenure in which the conference landed a transformational billion dollar television deal but struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron, File)

The Pac-12 announced on Wednesday night that conference Commissioner Larry Scott would not seek a new contract. The conference indicated that it was a mutual decision, saying it was time for new leadership after Scott’s 11-year tenure.

“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,” said University of Oregon President Michael Schill. “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.”

The PAC-12 says the decision was made well in advance of the expiration of Scott’s contract to allow for a new commissioner to be in place ahead of the league’s next big step in securing long-term media rights to conference sporting events.

Scott’s existing contract is scheduled to expire in June 2022 and it was agreed he will remain in the role until June 30, 2021 to assist in the transition. The Pac-12 executive committee says it will immediately begin a search for Scott’s replacement.

Scott says the time is right to explore other opportunities and believes the Pac-12 is well-positioned for continued success and appreciates the support of league member institutions.

It was under Scott’s tenure that the league expanded to 12 teams with the inclusion of Utah and Colorado, with the Pac-12 agreeing to equal revenue sharing for the first time in the conference’s history, creating two divisions, the North and South Division, and establishing a conference Championship Game for the first time in that league’s history.

Scott also secured major media rights deals with ESPN and FOX, in addition to establishing Pac-12 Networks that guaranteed enhanced exposure across all sports.

Despite successes in academics and expanded media deals with Fox and ESPN, KSL sports anchor Sam Farnsworth, on KSL Newsradio’s Unrivaled Wednesday night, says nationally, Pac-12 football was falling behind other power 5 conferences.

“The product wasn’t winning, and the television deal, I know the Pac-12 is trying to paint it that it had this lucrative deal, but the Pac-12 Network hasn’t worked out so great.  It’s decent but it hasn’t worked out as great as they thought it would,” said Farnsworth.

Moving forward, member institutions have let it be known that one priority in the search for Scott’s successor will be the push to continue academic success for student athletes. President Schill cited the Conference’s improvements in graduation rates, with 90% of the NCAA Division I student-athletes graduating during the measured period, and athletic programs achieving 100% graduation rates among student-athletes in specific sports programs.