March 15, 2014

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

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

1

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

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

2

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

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

3

of course, I'm never presenting regular season trophies in football or basketball unless I happen to be in a place where that's occurring. So I don't do it in football with the north or south champion, and I don't as a matter of course do it in men's and women's basketball. What I do is hand out the championship trophy, which is for the team that's going to get the berth into the NCAA Tournament. So I've done that since my tenure here in terms of football and in terms of basketball at our championship events. So if there was an interpretation that that was a shun, that's a misinformed view. It certainly wasn't. I haven't done that as a matter of course at all. Q. What is a realistic timetable for the one-and-done factor? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, it's not within our control. It's subject to the collective bargaining between the NBA and the NBA Players Association. So I can't really answer. I know it hasn't really been addressed. But I am staying close to it in various conversations with influencers in pro basketball. Right now there is no head of the Players' Union, and I think that has really put on hold any meaningful conversations. I don't think you'll see anything until there is a new head of the Players Association. Q. Any idea of the selection process for the All-Star team in China, and then the question you answered ten times a day, the DIRECTV. Any progress on that? Also, just the real frustration with the fans with the unpredictability of time slots, late TV games, and sometimes feeling like the step child getting the worst slots on TV, any progress? Can you update us about the conversations you're having with your TV partners on that? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Sure. So one at a time, in terms of the selection process for the All-Star team, that's really, we leave that up to each of the coaches to nominate the players that they'd like to see go. Then with Coach Robinson at Oregon State University who is going to be the coach of the All-Star team, he'll work on mixing and matching and making sure we have an appropriate team. Essentially, individual coaches will nominate, and then Coach Robinson will work collaboratively to select the team. They'll do some training here in the U.S. first before they go over to

create some gel between the teams, and then they'll go over for their tour. Second question, no progress on DIRECTV. Have no new news there. Unfortunately, I know it's a great source of frustration for fans, and we are sympathetic to that, especially this week when we've had, I believe, it's 8 of the 11 games on the Pac-12 Network, and there is so much interest in what's going on. This week has been indicative of the great content and the passion that our fans have to want to see their teams in important moments in football, basketball, and all the other sports. We're hopeful that DIRECTV listens to their customers and our fans that are passionate about wanting to get it, and there will be some progress. We keep trying. We keep trying to open the door. Trying to find creative solutions understanding that we've got 65 other distributors that are taking it on a certain business model. There's really nothing more we can say other than that. There is no immediate sign of a resolution to that. In terms of nighttime games, this is something that as we move from our old TV agreements prior to 2012 to our new TV agreements, there have been significant changes across the board. Most notably that we have a lot more games on TV. We made a commitment to broadcast every football game and every men's basketball game and to have national distribution for all those games. That basically meant that we needed to alter our scheduling and create more TV windows when we'd play games and be more flexible with TV. So in the case of basketball, as an example, our conference as a tradition has been very conservative about when we'd play games. Most of the games would be 7:00, 7:30 on a Thursday night and then we'd play on Saturdays. When we made a commitment, and our prior TV deal in 2009 when I arrived, I think we had 90 basketball games that weren't on TV at all. Fast forward to today, we have a contract with ESPN with a significant number of games on, a number of games with FOX, and 150 games on the Pac-12 Network. To get every game on TV we have to play multiple times. If every game during the week was on Thursday at 7:00 or 7:30, you couldn't get all the games on. So we had to move to doubleheaders on Wednesday and Thursday, so we essentially have four weekday windows when we can play a game, thereby allowing us to get every game on TV. And

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

4

to get on ESPN, Wednesday night was one of their open slots. For those of you that follow college basketball on ESPN, they have a pretty full slate of college basketball during the season, Wednesday night was a slot we could get a lot of exposure, which was really important to our coaches and our programs in terms of getting more exposure, more appreciation, more recognition nationally for our programs. Football as well, ESPN, ABC, FOX Sports One, FOX Broadcast Network, and the Pac-12 Network, and we're playing, basically, in every available window. And our partners really value those night time games. We provide disproportionate and unique value to our TV partners in that evening window because the SEC, Big Ten, and ACC and Big 12 can't play a 7:30 p.m. pacific time, 10:30 p.m. east coast time football game. So we have added a tremendous amount of value to that time slot. The bottom line, the reason we're getting paid for what we're getting paid for our rights, and the reason we've made the huge leap that we've made from an exposure standpoint as a conference and a resource standpoint as a conference, is because we've been more flexible on the TV times. I travel around the conference regularly. I'm at every campus once a year for a football game. I get to every campus every two or three years for a men's basketball game. The reason I go to the campuses is to not only to see how the games are going, but to talk to the fans, talk to the media. I get to see most of you when I'm traveling around and keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening. I've gotten regular feedback from fans that they're struggling with the increase that we've had in night time games and some of the different times that we have now in basketball and some of the flexibility that we've had to offer TV. So the pendulum has clearly swung more in the direction of trying to be flexible for TV because there was such an urgent priority placed on increasing our revenue and increasing our exposure. Now two years into our new agreements we're taking that feedback that we're getting from fans and schools and looking at, can we course correct? So we're having conversations with ESPN and FOX about possibly figuring out ways within the constrict of our agreement to maybe reduce the number of night football games and try to ease some of the tension fans are feeling. There is nothing conclusive yet. It's a conversation we'll keep having. It's part of the normal course of

a relationship with your TV broadcaster every year. Our view of what's working well, what areas do we need to try to address? They've got issues too. And the main thing I want to underscore is we absolutely listen to fans, to our schools, want to try to just find that perfect balance, as elusive as it may be. But we have prioritized as a conference, and there is no getting around it. We have prioritized as a conference being more appealing to TV and having more national exposure, and creating greater revenue. That's really benefited our campuses. Q. You talked about the struggles of the fans and things like that. One of the things we've heard in our corner of the world is coaches talking about the Sunday games. We're talking basketball here, that they don't have a chance to give student-athletes a day off, and that's been a real problem. Your thoughts on the Sunday games? Beavers played on Super Bowl Sunday of all things, which a lot of people -- they didn't have very good attendance, and it all wraps together. Just your thoughts on that situation? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That is another one that I'd put in this basket of there are real adjustments that we've had to make to be as appealing as we are now on TV and get all the exposure that we're getting. We get a lot of exposure on Sundays. The only way we can get every basketball game on TV nationally is to play both days over the weekend. So Sunday games are a reality. Not just in our conference, but in other conferences across the country. But we're learning. I mean, this is still relatively new for our conference. So we get feedback. If some campuses struggle more than others with Sunday games, we try to nudge that a little bit in our annual scheduling. But it is a reality and it will be for the next decade of our current TV contracts, and we'll do our best to make the adjustment as we can for fans. Obviously, we get some feedback about rest times. Specifically, if people are struggling with playing Sunday and having to come back Wednesday, those are things we look at too. If somebody plays Sunday, maybe they get consideration in terms of not playing until Thursday next week. These are things we work very closely with our coaches as well as the athletic administrators of our schools to try to balance

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

5

these things. Q. As far as the team in China, is the Oregon State entire staff going over there, or is he going to take assistants from other schools? And how did you come up with Craig Robinson? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So we decided that the coach would be able to bring his staff. So the coaching staff will stay intact. It will be an Oregon State staff. Q. Along the lines of what you're saying, Arizona has been on their two game trips this year. Every time they've had two days between, and Miller has complained a lot about being out for five days. In light of what you're saying is it possible any push where you can tighten them up a little bit on a Wednesday-Friday or more Thursday-Saturdays? How tough is that? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We're spending a lot of time looking at different permutations and combinations. Minimizing missed class time is an important priority and something we look at, we ask get asked to look at by the faculty, by the presidents. So we really monitor this very carefully. When we moved from a traditional Thursday-Saturday basketball scheduling scenario to know that we were going to have to play Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as Saturdays and Sundays, we went to the campuses to say we think this can be done in a way where you don't miss anymore class time than you're missing currently, but we'll have to change our travel policies. One of the reasons that we're going to a Wednesday-Thursday is exposure, the other is revenue. If we play on Wednesdays, we'd like to see the teams be able to charter to fly back to campus that night. Our hypothesis was that if you play Wednesday-Saturday or Wednesday-Sunday, certainly if you stay in the travel pair city that you're traveling too, you'd be away more days than if it were a Thursday. But if you charter and come back, you could be away less than you would have been on a Thursday-Saturday, Thursday-Sunday scenario. The idea is that as we have more resources, let's allocate some of them to support student-athlete welfare, to support the academic objectives that we have and turn what could be looked at as a potential problem into an

opportunity and get kids back to campus and class sooner than they would be if we were playing Thursday-Saturday. Having said that, then it's left to each school to manage and decide what they're going to do. We have not forced a conference-wide policy up until now. So right now that decision is left to a campus-by-campus decision on how they're managing their travel. Q. You talked a lot about exposure. In the case of UCLA Thursday night basketball games starting at 6:00 p.m., it's the absolute worse for UCLA because the stands are empty. Even Dick Vitale earlier this year criticized. You left UCLA open, they were criticized by Vitale for not being at the game when, in fact, 6:00 p.m. West LA, they're all in traffic and they don't get there until halftime. Is there any community specific adjustment you can make in this case? Because, again, exposure is bad at this point. COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It's a challenge in general. For some, if you're going to play a doubleheader, one game has to be at 6:00, one game has to be at 8:00. Rarely, I won't say never, but rarely are we playing a game at 9:00 p.m. where you go 7:00 to 9:00. That's not too great either. You're right. Some communities, 6:00 p.m. may be too early, in others 8:00 p.m. is too late. We're learning. Now that we're two years into this, we're getting a feel and trying to be a little more flexible to see if certain schools don't have a problem with one time slot, maybe play more games there. And then other schools maybe it's less of a problem, so you load up the 6:00 p.m. game times there. We're not there yet in terms of having this perfect balance. I think, in general, every campus has some struggle with 6:00 p.m. it's early. In some places, most places, 8:00 p.m. can be too late if a game goes until after 10:00 and getting back. So I think to some extent there is a fan adjustment that will happen naturally over time. To some extent we can be better about figuring out unique situations and working around it. More art than science, probably. But I think we'll continue to iterate and evolve. Q. With Jamie coming on board, does he have to leave the Selection Committee for

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

6

this process? If so, does that go through the thought process of announcing it now as opposed to a few days after? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yes. In terms of the announcement, absolutely I wanted to make sure it was announced before the deliberations of the Men's Basketball Committee to make sure there was full disclosure and the avoidance of any perception whatsoever that he would have a conflict of interest in decisions that the Men's Basketball Committee was making. So it was really important. We'd been having discussions for weeks about it. So it was very important to disclose and avoid any perception of conflict. As a result, when decisions are being made about our teams, he will be treated as someone that's got a relationship with the conference, and he'll be out of the room, I suspect. Secondly, a conference is not allowed more than one representative on the Men's Basketball Committee, and our Stanford Athletics Director, Bernard Muir, has been appointed to the Men's Basketball Committee. So as a result, Jamie as an individual will come off the Men's Basketball Committee. Q. Just a minor point, but I noticed you're talking about exposure. I think it was Wednesdays you had a lot of games on at the same time. One would be on FOX Sports, one on ESPNU. Is that okay? Is that something you want to avoid as well because they're on different networks, is that okay? COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Sometimes it's unavoidable. What we can control to a greater extent is when there are games on the Pac-12 Networks. We can't control the overlap between ESPN and FOX. As much as we've tried to foster a harmonious relationship between the two of them, they have the flexibility to schedule games. The main thing was creating enough windows where we knew we could get every game on TV, and it happens in football too. On any given Saturday, if you have eight games there are going to be overlaps. I just think that is the reality of this environment where you're trying to get every game on TV. You have multiple broadcast partners; you're going to have overlap in games. FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Commissioner Scott - 03.15.14.doc
visit our archives at asapsports.com

7

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful