SBD/Issue 132/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Larry Scott Reflects On WTA Tenure, Notes Similarities To Pac-10

Scott Sees Many Similarities Between
His Roles With WTA, Pac-10
Outgoing Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Chair & CEO Larry Scott said he is "learning how many similarities there are" between the WTA and the Pac-10 Conference, which he will join as Commissioner in July, according to Bonnie Ford of Scott: "There's governance, upholding the integrity and rules of the sport. There's supporting the members, whether they're players or member institutions. You have to work well with others. In tennis, it's the ITF and ATP -- with the Pac-10, it'll be the bowl partners, the other conference commissioners and the NCAA on national issues." Scott noted the WTA in recent years has "marketed, repositioned and branded itself to unlock commercial value, and the Pac-10 wants to do the same thing -- reposition itself strategically in a very dynamic and challenging economic environment." But he added, "I have a lot to learn about the member institutions." Scott said of leaving the WTA, "I feel great about where the game is at. There's never a perfect time, but this is as good a time as any. When it became clear in the last several months of 2008 that there wasn't the possibility of a merger between the ATP and WTA -- and I was very public and open that that was the next step tennis needed to take -- it's fair to say I was disappointed. It was a bit of a turning point. I had done most of what could be done in terms of my skills to reposition and rebuild the WTA in its own right. When it became clear a merger wasn't going to happen, it was a chance for me to reflect on which direction I should go."

MOVING ON: Scott said of making the decision to leave, "I was home a lot in December and January and after some soul-searching with my wife, I decided that I only had 10 more years before my children (ages 8, 7 and 5) were going to begin leaving home." When asked if he was ever officially a candidate to replace former ATP World Tour Exec Chair & President Etienne de Villiers, Scott said, "They approached me at the U.S. Open (last year) and asked if I would be willing to leave the WTA, and I said no. However, I told them I thought it would be the perfect time for the tours to come together and merge." Scott said it is "just a coincidence" that three of the top jobs in tennis -- the ATP, the WTA and the USTA -- will have turned over in the past few months. Scott: "I don't see any connection. I hope it's an opportunity for the sport to have new leadership and fresh perspective" (, 3/26).

CASH, NOT CREDIBILITY:'s James Martin wrote, "What I find ... surprising is how everyone, it seems, is praising Scott as the greatest leader of women's tennis ever. He probably is. But is that saying much, given his more recent predecessors?" Scott deserves "massive credit for filling the tour's coffers," and if we are to "measure Scott's success by the size of the WTA's war chest, which by all accounts is overflowing, he is indeed worthy of all the praise coming his way." But Martin added, "When I look back at his six-year tenure, I don't see the record of a visionary whose decisions were governed by passion for the sport or its fans. Instead, I see an exceptional businessman who too often put cash ahead of credibility." Martin: "For all the money the WTA tour has made, can you think of one successful women's-only event on TV in the U.S. that isn't on some low-rent cable channel at a ridiculously inconvenient time?" (, 3/25).

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