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Larry Scott China Quotes

Larry Scott China Quotes

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Published by Catherine Jones
Larry Scott China Quotes
Larry Scott China Quotes

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Published by: Catherine Jones on Mar 15, 2014
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03/18/2014

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Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc 
 
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  An interview with:
COMMISSIONER SCOTT
 
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us and thanks for the great coverage this week. Welcome to the Commissioner's press conference. Commissioner Larry Scott will give a brief opening and then open it up for questions. COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Delighted to be back here in Las Vegas for our second Pac-12 men's basketball championship here. It's been a great success, and this game today is going to top off what's been a tremendous year in Pac-12 men's basketball. When I look at the success of this tournament and in only its second year, look at the crowds that we've had, the atmosphere, the electricity, it really is a realization of the hope and vision we had when we brought the tournament to Las Vegas. Our regular season champion,  Arizona, spent all the year either atop or near the very top of the polls and the Pac-12 was as deep as any conference this year. In fact, seven Pac-12 teams were amongst the top 55 in the latest RPI, rivalling any other conference. So we've got that magical combination right now of elite teams and increasing depth in the conference in basketball, which is something we aspire to. Now the stage is set to crown our tournament champion in what I know will be a great match-up today between Arizona and UCLA. I want to take a few minutes. It's a great opportunity to be with you. Take a few minutes to talk a little bit about some issues and major things going on, not just around basketball and the conference, but more broadly around college athletics and developments with the conference. First, I want to update on some of our globalization initiatives particularly related to China. We've got some important news. I'm delighted to announce two specific developments related to our China plan. The first is that this summer Oregon State men's basketball coach, Craig Robinson, is going to be leading the first ever Pac-12 men's basketball All-Star team to China. Similar to the past two summer's trips, but involved individual teams traveling to China, this team is going to have representatives from all 12 of our institutions. They'll play two games against professional teams in China. They'll play a game against the university team in China, and they'll have a chance to visit three cities in what is not only a sporting competition, but also a cultural exchange between our two countries. In a big step forward, something that has been talked about at a very broad level, I'm very pleased to announce that we've finalized plans to stage the first ever regular season men's basketball game in China. In 2015, we'll become the first U.S. sports league, collegiate or professional, to stage a regular season game in China. The game will take place on November 14, 2015 between the University of Washington, from our conference, and the University of Texas. It will be broadcast live throughout China as well as here in the U.S. on ESPN. This event represents a major step forward in our globalization initiative and a big step forward in our efforts to promote our universities in China. With sports, we are creating deeper cultural exchanges in relations between our two countries and for our Pac-12 schools out here on the west coast, the gateway to the Pacific Rim. This is an important opportunity to use athletics to further the broader mission of our universities internationally. During this week, and today, in fact, you'll also see Chinese representatives from 23 of the leading universities in China that have spent the better part of this week here with our team as part of the US-China Collegiate Sports Development Program. This is the second year that we've conducted this development program, which is an
March 15, 2014
 
 
 
visit our archives at asapsports.com
 
Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc 
 
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 exchange between athletics directors and universities in China and ours. So there were several seminars that took place this week, other exchanges. It's been a very successful week and exchange between our two countries at the university level. The next topic I want to talk about relates to basketball on a national level, and one of the big issues that we faced, that I talked about at our basketball media day, is one and done. From my perspective this is one of the most significant issues facing collegiate basketball, but more broadly college sports, especially at Pac-12 institutions where excellence in the classroom is critical and held in very high regard, more important than performance on the court or the field. Our feeling is that the one-and-done phenomenon is very detrimental to the essential academic mission of our universities. The phenomenon is short changing the vast majority of our student-athletes who receive scholarships to Pac-12 universities as a huge transformative opportunity in their life. These student-athletes value the access that athletics provides, and our universities expect student-athletes to pursue academic rigor as well as their athletic pursuits, and we hold them to similar standards as other students in the universities. This high visibility trend of one-and-done threatens to undermine a lot of these efforts and the twin goals of academic as well as athletic excellence at our college. Now what I've said, and I firmly believe in, is that if a 17 or 18-year-old has no interest in going to college, shouldn't be forced to go to college. So I'd like to see, like in baseball, if a person of that age decides that they want to be a professional basketball player, love to see them be able to go have that opportunity in the NBA or internationally. I hope those leagues will provide those opportunities for those students. However, if they do decide to come to our universities, we want them to commit to a full college education. There is no reason why the systems that we have in football and in baseball can't also apply to basketball where student-athletes have to be 21 before they leave school and go to the pros. It's been encouraging to hear the new commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, talk about this, support this. He's talked about a 20-year-old age rule; we'd prefer to see it at 21. But it's great to see he is the new leader of the NBA coming out and talking about this, and I think we have a shared vision. Obviously, this is not something within our control as a conference or the NCAA, but something that has to be worked out between the NBA and the NBA Players  Association as part of their collective bargaining agreement. So we'll continue to engage, help where we can, and we're hopeful that the NBA and the NBAPA are going to be able to work it out. Shifting gears to NCAA reform, which has been another major topic which has been talked about over the last months, the governance of college sports and the reform agenda that's being discussed involves a myriad of very difficult issues. But I think it's important to really focus on why we think governance reform, particularly for the Pac-12 and our universities, is important, and particularly important at this moment in time. It's important to remember the tremendous benefits our universities already provide to Pac-12 student-athletes. Athletics brings opportunity, access, and affordability to so many deserving student-athletes, many of whom would not have otherwise been able to afford college education or would graduate with a lot of debt. The vast majority of our 7,000 student-athletes in the Pac-12 Conference take great advantage of the opportunities, and very grateful for the opportunities that they have. Gaining a world-class education to universities like we have in the Pac-12 Conference, with free tuition, housing, scholarship expenses, athletic and academic support, make a huge world of difference in their lives. When they look back, and when I talk to former student-athletes who look back, they really find it was a transformative moment in their life. With all that said, we do need to do more. We'd like to do more to support student-athletes. My view is that our main focus should be on providing enhanced benefits to student-athletes, including covering the full cost of attendance, and that can be done in a way that still preserves the collegiate model. This is something that people from many quarters, both inside and outside the large conferences have been calling for with increased intensity, yet it hasn't been able to be accomplished through the current governing structure of the NCAA. That's why we need reform of the governance structure of the NCAA, to allow the high-resource conferences to have more flexibility in deciding to do a better job of
 
 
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Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc 
 
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 supporting student-athletes where they'd like to. The proposed approach that myself and colleagues from our peer conferences are taking is really an extension of the way the NCAA is structured anyway. There have always been a recognition of differences between Division 1, Division II, and Division III, and within divisions I'm optimistic that the current discussions are going to lead toward progress in this area and allow us to do some of the things that we want to do to better support student-athletes. Shifting to more the governance and the management of the Pac-12 Conference, we announced this week a change in leadership at the conference and the deputy commissioner, chief operating officer role. I've been very fortunate and had the great privilege over the last four years to work closely with Kevin Weiberg who has been our deputy. Kevin, many of you know, was the long time commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, was the deputy commissioner at the Big Ten Conference for many years, and I was very fortunate that he was able to join me early on after I started here at the Pac-12. We've accomplished an awful lot in four and a half years, and Kevin deserves a lot of credit for a lot of what we've accomplished in that role. I've been very fortunate that someone with his experience and his talents has been by my side for most of this journey. Earlier this year, Kevin notified me that he was going to step down from full-time work and move back to his home state of Kansas, so we've had time to really think about the next step in terms of the conference management structure, and I was delighted to be able to announce earlier this week as well that Jamie Zaninovich is going to be replacing Kevin in that role of chief commissioner and chief operating officer. Jamie has seven years of experience as commissioner of the West Coast Conference, currently a member of the Men's Basketball Committee. Has a lot of experience with our conference, being a graduate of Stanford and working in their athletics department. Overall a great fit for our conference and will be a great member of our team. Brings with him very important experience, and will have very big shoes to fill with Kevin's retirement, but we're very fortunate to have someone of Jamie's skill and experience that's going to be a member of our team. So that's a quick round up of a variety of things I realize, international, national, and very local in terms of how our conference operates. But this is always a great opportunity with the media around the basketball tournament to share with you some of the major developments that are going on and some of the things that we are thinking about. Turning to this tournament here, as we get ready for what I'm sure will be a great game, I wasn't sure I was going to be saying this this soon in terms of our time here in Las Vegas, but we're announcing that we've had a sellout four sessions in a row, which obviously is a great step forward from where this tournament has been, and I think it represents great progress in just our second year here. We feel there is still a long way to go in continuing to build up this event. I want to thank our partners here in Las Vegas. It's been a great team effort. The Las Vegas events and Pat Christenson who is their president, as well as Scott Sibella, and the MGM Grand team, as well as the Pac-12 team that have worked on it. I want to thank our sponsors, including our presenting sponsor, New York Life, and thank you to the media that have been here supporting this event, helping communicate what's happening across the country, and now I'd be delighted to answer any questions you have.
Q. How aware are you of your low approval rating inside of the Arizona Wildcats fan base stemming from everything that happened last year with the officiating program magnified during this basketball season by the belief that you did not show up at a U of A home game, and a lot of people were upset with that. And for lack of a better term, a lot of fans feel you've shunned Wildcat basketball? What do you say to them?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: First of all, I don't measure my approval ratings. I'm not running for office. Really my whole job is about supporting all of our schools and have a great relationship with all of our schools, including the University of Arizona. So I think if that perception is out there, as you say, I certainly wouldn't view that as an accurate characterization at all, both in terms of my relationship with the leadership of the university as well as certainly support for Arizona. Obviously delighted with their success, and we work very collaboratively with them. Someone had asked me about the trophy presentation. I could certainly clarify. As a matter

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