Pac-12 agrees to part ways with commissioner Larry Scott

The Pac-12 Conference announced Wednesday that it would part ways with Commissioner Larry Scott. According to the conference’s statement, the Pac-12 and Scott agreed it was time for “new leadership.” Scott will step down officially on June 30, but the conference begins its search for a replacement immediately.

Scott’s contract terminates over a year before its scheduled expiration in 2022. According to the Pac-12, the early dismissal allows Scott to assist in the transition so that the next commissioner is ready for new negotiations on long-term media deals.

“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,” Pac-12 executive committee member Kirk Shulz said in a statement. 

Scott’s 11-year tenure as commissioner was heavily criticized. Despite signing one of the most lucrative television deals in college sports history — a $3-billion, 12-year deal that almost tripled the conference’s annual television revenue — Scott failed to elevate the position of the Pac-12 and stay competitive with its Power Five peers. 

An Los Angeles Times analysis of public tax documents in 2020 revealed that the Pac-12 had fallen behind the SEC and Big Ten in revenue, reducing the money that the conference could distribute to its schools. This fact was made even worse by Scott’s status as the highest paid Power Five commissioner. 

Scott’s response to the coronavirus lagged in comparison to other conferences. In July, the league announced a revised conference-only schedule only to indefinitely postpone the season shortly afterward. The conference ultimately decided to hold its season in November, but the delay gave teams no leeway to make up for games canceled due to the coronavirus. It also meant that Pac-12 teams had fewer games than their counterparts to make their case for the College Football Playoffs. 

Scott’s tenure was also clouded by reports that he made the conference’s athletic directors feel disenfranchised,by placing them on a need-to-know basis. In September, the Pac-12 secured a deal with Quidel Corporation — a diagnostic healthcare manufacturer that had developed a daily antigen test for the coronavirus that was touted as the key to restarting football — but Scott did not notify the conferences’ athletic directors before announcing the deal, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In light of the criticism, the commissioner still spearheaded deals that proved fundamental to the conference’s identity. Scott oversaw the expansion of the conference to its modern 12-school membership by adding Colorado and Utah. Along with an ESPN and Fox media rights agreement, Scott also established the Pac-12 Network, an independent conference network owned in part by the conference’s universities. 

Scott concludes his tenure in the midst of a dry spell for the conference’s football and basketball programs. The Pac-12 last sent a football team to the CPF in 2016, and only one team has reached the men’s Final Four since 2009.