Pac-12 athletic directors hit back at realignment rumors, saying media deal is close
Many leaders in the Conference of Champions have stood up. Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton has chosen silence in this matter.
One national story after another has dropped about the impending demise of the Pac-12. There were rumors of the TV rights deal dissolving. There were rumors of Amazon and Apple not liking the streaming pieces of the revenue pie the Pac-12 was offering. There were rumors of the Big 12 coming in and poaching the Four Corner schools of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. There remain constant rumors of whether the Big Ten will try another round of realignment.
This past week, the various conference members started shooting back. With most Pac-12 leaders congregated in Las Vegas for the conference tournament, it seems consensus was reached on multiple fronts to go on the offensive.
It started with Utah athletic director Mark Harlan refuting a story from Dennis Dodd about Ute interest in the Big 12.
Harlan elaborated on his comments later, saying a media deal is being ironed out.
“I’ve been clear all along- the other schools in our conference have been clear all along that we’re together,” Harlan said. “We’re 10. We’ve said it. We’re working hard with our commissioner to get this deal done. It’s a complicated deal. There is structure and high expectations with ADs and certainly the presidents and chancellors for the commissioner to nail this thing so we can march forward.”
Other voices have started speaking out. Arizona State president Michael Crow discussed this from the State Press:
"There have been no discussions with the Big 12 conference on moving," Crow said. "I mean, there's been discussions between everyone everywhere on all things related to where our conference is going and where stuff's going to end up and what's happening. We are committed to the Pac-12."
Arizona president Robert C. Robbins voiced that the Pac-12 media deal would be better than the Big 12’s.
Leaders from Oregon State and Washington State have already voiced their confidence in a strong deal, according to John Canzano.
Washington State president Kirk Schulz told Jon Wilner he hoped something would get done in mid-March. Oregon State president Jayathi Murthy told me earlier this week that a deal could get done by the end of March — or not.
“We’re all looking for a good, strong deal,” she said.
And some interesting news out of Boulder: With excitement palpable around the Deion Sanders hire, Colorado will be the only Power 5 school to have its spring game televised on the main ESPN network. That appears to bode well for a future Pac-12/ESPN partnership.
Conspicuous in his absence from the rebuttals around the conference is Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton. Cal has a decent amount to gain from the Pac-12 staying together, as they’re already potentially getting annual millions in subsidies from UCLA’s blindsiding departure to the Big Ten.
To be fair, there are some potential reasons for being silent, with a significant men’s basketball coaching search underway and a potential investigation from the university underway for his handling of the Teri McKeever scandal. And Cal was not circulated as one of the schools that could potentially be realigned, so no real statement was probably needed. But it would be nice to see a representative from Cal issue some sort of proactive statement expressing confidence in the coming media deal.
More critically, Oregon and Washington have kept quiet on their plans, and the future of the Pac-12 hinges on their long-term commitment. While the Big 12 has certainly courted the two major programs, both have eyes set on the Big Ten. But without a commissioner it might be hard for a deal to commence for further realignment.
All signs are a media deal is close; hopefully all the confidence the leaders are sharing matches to the actual numbers that are put on paper.
interesting that Cal, Furd, Oregon and UW are the quiet ones, and exactly the ones that would be of interest to the B10.
I'm interested in what they conclude about how Knowlton handled the McKeever affair more than anything else.