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LAS VEGAS — At one point during his annual pre-championship game state-of-the-Pac-12 press conference Saturday evening, commissioner Larry Scott was asked about the college admissions scandal that ensnared several coaches and schools within the conference.
Scott paused for a moment just to clarify it was last week’s scandal the reporter was inquiring about. That’s not to pile on a commissioner that has weathered an avalanche of criticism in recent years. But it was telling about the state of affairs in the Pac-12 that its commissioner needed to clarify which scandal was being talked about.
With University of Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano, now the chair of the Pac-12 CEO group, at his side, Scott and the CU leader met the media to discuss league matters, with the ongoing search for an equity partner for the conference’s media rights when its current deal expires in 2024. The advisory board hired by the league, the Raine Group, provided an update to the CEO group on Saturday.
“We would have a strategic investment partner to help us maximize our value for years to come,” DiStefano said. “And secondly, the universities would have an immediate infusion of revenue that would close the distribution gap that we face with our peers in the other Power 5 conferences. This would help our campuses tremendously in meeting unfunded needs.
“So while we’re a couple months away from receiving formal offers, I can say the chancellors, the presidents, the ADs, are all aligned with each other in continuing the process with the Raine Group.”
In other prominent matters addressed at the session:
• Scott said there remains no decision on the future of the Pac-12 football championship game, which will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the final time this year. Scott, however, might have offered a hint by publicly noting the new NFL stadiums under construction within the Pac-12 footprint in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
• With two full basketball seasons having passed since the FBI college basketball corruption scandal first erupted, the NCAA reportedly has only recently begun its own investigations into the schools involved, and Arizona coach Sean Miller also has been subpoenaed for a trial next month.
“We’re certainly concerned when any of our schools are embroiled in an investigation like that, and accusations like that,” Scott said. “The universities that were involved took some swift action in certain instances, but there’s some lingering issues
“I think we’re all eager to see that process play out and get a resolution and clarity for the Arizona program and Pac-12 basketball more broadly to move forward.”
• Last week, the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament was held in Las Vegas for the first time, moving from Seattle due to massive renovations occurring at Key Arena. Given the lack of women’s basketball tradition in Las Vegas, Scott admitted the league didn’t know what exactly to expect. Yet he reported the feedback was largely positive, and the possibility remains the tournament will have its stay extended beyond the two-year agreement through the 2019-20 season. Scott also noted the league entered into the two-year agreement to keep the option open of returning to Seattle.