SBD/June 14, 2011/CollegesPrint All
CBSSPORTS.com ranked Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott No. 1 on its Top 100 college athletics power brokers, and CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote Scott is "one of the most influential persons in college sports -- ever." When Scott leaves his post, his legacy "will draft behind like a comet's tail." That was "assured the moment he gathered the league's 12 presidents for a hastily arranged Sunday conference call on May 1." Scott three days later "announced a record 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox that represented a 250 percent increase in the league's rights fees." An industry source said that "when the still-to-come Pac-12 Network is on line, the league could be taking in $400 million per year," or $33.3M per school. Dodd wrote Scott, since assuming the role in June '09, has "changed what has been possible in college athletics." He "shocked the world" last June by "making a bold play for six Big 12 schools to create the Pac-16." ESPN and Fox "at the last minute ... jumped in to make financial assurances to the Big 12 that basically kept Texas from jumping." But "within two weeks, Utah and Colorado had joined, allowing the league to split into divisions and stage a conference championship game beginning this season." Dodd: "You get the feeling the idea for superconferences hasn't been driven from his mind." However, Dodd wondered if Scott will "even be around to enjoy the league's fortunes." UNLV and former Univ. of Arizona AD Jim Livengood said, "How long he wants to do this is to be determined. Larry's one of those persons who always has a challenge ahead of him" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/10).
NEXT PROJECT: CBSSPORTS.com's Bryan Fischer wrote Scott's focus "has now turned to what some consider the league's possible crown jewel -- the Pac-12 Network." Scott and Pac-10 Deputy Commissioner & COO Kevin Weiberg are hoping to get the net "off the ground by the time the league's new deal begins next summer." Weiberg, a former Big 12 Conference Commissioner who also helped launch the Big Ten Network, is "no stranger to the concept of having an in-house media operation." He "saw the potential revenue streams a conference could bring in and originally pitched the idea to the Big 12." The "biggest issue facing any potential cable network is distribution." The BTN "ran into issues following its launch and took years to get onto top cable distributors," and the Pac-12 is "expected to face a similar uphill battle with distributors tired of channels continuing to raise subscriber fees." But with the "potential of several hundred million in revenue, a league channel offers too many benefits for a conference that has struggled to promote its brand." Fischer noted besides being the "only BCS league west of the Rockies" and having a "monopoly on the Pacific and Mountain time zones, the network will look to have programming that hits East Coast primetime windows as well." Every football and men's and women's basketball game will be televised, and "retaining some premium games for the network is expected to help." Meanwhile, there is "no question the Pac-12 could eventually be on in millions of homes in China, Japan and other countries." A conference official confirmed that Scott "has already made inquiries about having the channel distributed overseas shortly after launch" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/10).
NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday announced that he “would hold a two-day retreat with about 50 school presidents or chancellors to discuss the future of Division I sports,” according to Michael Marot of the AP. Among topics on the agenda for the Aug. 9-10 meeting are “how to maintain the governing body's policy on amateurism, a definition that allows schools to restrict how athletes are compensated for playing sports.” But that is "not all Emmert wants to talk about." Emmert said, "How do we look at issues around the integrity of the collegiate model? Is there a sense that we need stronger investigative tools? Is there a sense that we need a more understood and more comprehensive penalty structure?" Marot noted it is the “pay-for-play issue that will certainly get the most attention.” It has been "debated publicly for decades, and has gained fresh traction in the wake of high-profile infractions." The “ramifications have been felt at some of the nation's most prominent programs.” Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter “does not believe the solution is simply giving athletes cash.” Painter: "I don't want to lose the amateurism. They are getting their education paid for and a lot of people say that's what the NBA is for. If you want to get paid, go to the NBA." To Emmert, the pay-for-play topic “is just one part of the retreat.” He “wants university leaders to discuss how the governing body can continue its push to hold athletes to better academic standards, what can be done to help improve the behavior of athletes, protecting the integrity of college sports and the fiscal sustainability of athletic departments that routinely spend tens of millions of dollars to fund sports” (AP, 6/13).
IMG “will dive headfirst into the football recruiting industrial complex later this month when it hosts its first seven-on-seven tournament,” according to Andy Staples of SI.com. The IMG Madden 7-on-7 Championships Presented by Under Armour on June 25 and 26 marks “a turning point in the evolution of elite travel football.” IMG “will march in lockstep with Under Armour to stage an event for traveling all-star teams that will seem a world away from the grassroots circuit that started four years ago.” IMG in August '12 “will field its own football team, possibly with some of the players who first saw the place when they came for the tournament.” Former FSU QB Chris Weinke has run IMG's Madden Football Academy since it opened last year, "hosting camps and training quarterbacks from every level." He said, "The seven-on-seven is the big thing right now. We wanted to be able to put on a first-class event that obviously would showcase our facilities. But even more importantly, we want to make sure that the first time we do it, we do it the right way.” Staples noted IMG has had to “build invisible walls to stay on the right side of the NCAA (also an IMG College client).” IMG Academies College Advisor & NCAA Compliance Education Officer Mark Blaweiss said that the NCAA “need not worry about IMG agents having access to IMG Academies' athletes.” Blaweiss: "That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face" (SI.com, 6/13).