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Pac-12's Larry Scott discusses refs, player stipends and DirecTV

June 03, 2013|By Chris Dufresne
  • "I'm completely looking forward, not in the rear-view mirror," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said of the controversy involving the conference's former director of men's basketball referees.
"I'm completely looking forward, not in the rear-view mirror,"… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

The Pac-12 Network still hasn’t reached agreement with DirecTV and the league is still smoldering over an officiating controversy last March.

All in all, though, Commissioner Larry Scott pronounced it was a pretty good year for the Pac-12 Conference.

Scott addressed a number of topics Monday during a conference call with reporters following last weekend’s summer meetings in Park City, Utah:

--The first year of the Pac-12 Network, Scott said, was “hugely successfully” -- despite the fact his league has yet to reach a deal with carrier DirecTV.

Scott said the Pac 12 network made a profit in its inaugural year and will increase the number of live televised events next year from 550 to 750. The Pac-12, unlike other major conferences, does not release how much broadcast revenue money it distributes to each school.

Scott said he did not know if a deal can be reached with DirecTV before the start of next football season.

“It’s hard for me to handicap it,” Scott said. “…They’ve said they don’t want to do a deal on the same terms everyone else has. We’re as frustrated as our fans are. We hope DirecTV will listen to their customers.”

--The league hopes to announce within weeks a replacement for Ed Rush, the former director of men’s basketball officiating. Rush resigned after a controversy erupted last March at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Rush had offered a financial “bounty” for any Pac-12 referee who ejected, or called a technical foul, on Arizona Coach Sean Miller.

An independent report commissioned by the Pac-12, released Sunday, confirmed the league’s internal finding that Rush was joking about the bounty.

Scott said he doesn’t think there will be any residual issues with the Pac-12 and Miller.

“I’m completely looking forward, not in the rear-view mirror,” Scott said.

--The full-cost-of-attendance issue is not going away. Several major conferences, including the Southeastern and Pac-12, favor a plan that will use increased television money to compensate their athletes with an additional scholarship stipend. Lower-level leagues, which don’t have those resources, are opposed.

Some think this could lead to the five major football conferences breaking off into a separate division.

“I’d like to think it could happen under the current structure,” Scott said of the stipend. “This is clearly the right thing.”

--One of four health initiative plans unveiled by the league on Monday includes a “football contact reduction” for conference schools. The goal is to cut down on concussions, head trauma and other injuries by establishing a league-wide policy to limit the amount of contact made during football practices.

“In our discussions it became clear this is a topic our coaches are focused on,” Scott said. “There is a high degree of awareness about it and a deep commitment to it. It was a high priority.”

Details about the rule and how conference schools will monitor contact should be known by the end of July, when the Pac-12 has its football media day.

--SEC coaches recently voted against a nine-game schedule, but all major conferences are expected to eventually end up at nine after the new College Football Playoff debuts in 2014. The Pac-12 and Big 12 already play nine conference games while the Big Ten is moving to nine in 2016. The SEC will play an eight-game schedule in 2014 and 2015 and then reevaluate. The Atlantic Coast also plays an eight-game conference schedule.

Scott said the new playoff, which will use a selection committee to pick the top four teams, will put a higher emphasis on strength of schedule.

“I think it’s fair to say every conference is looking in the mirror to reflect on how they stack up,” Scott said. “It’s no surprise the SEC would be evaluating.”

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