ASU News: Pac-12 Executives Take Bonuses Before Covid-19 Layoffs
According to reports by Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, the Pac-12 paid performance bonuses to executives and staff before major downsizing. Commissioner Larry Scott received a reported 2.2 million in bonuses and incentives while the next 10-highest paid employees were paid around a combined 1.35 million dollars, according to Mercury News. 94 of 196 Pac-12 employees were laid off or furloughed one month later.
In pre-COVID times, the Pac-12 pays bonuses in July to conference executives and September for Pac-12 Network staffers. Executives had their checks cut at the expected time, while staffers received their's two months in advance. One employee, according to Mercury News, received a check for 10,000 dollars and said he believed this was done as a way to help optics of a major firing. He was correct. It is unknown exactly how many of the laid-off or furloughed employees received bonuses.
When Scott was hired in 2009, the expectation from school presidents and chancellors was to run the conference like a professional league. An odd request considering how much effort is put into the narrative that college sports are not professional, and athletes should be treated (paid) as such. Scott's entire tenure has been one frustrating scandal to the next. From not being able to strike a deal with the Pac-12 Network and Direct-TV, that is now eight years in and counting, to attempting to pay the Los Angeles Times to produce positive media coverage of the conference. The board of presidents and chancellors, which now only has two of the original board members that hired Scott on it, do not trust Scott to do his job anymore with the Pac-12 looking to hire a media consultant with a business background to overhaul the entire conference.
The repercussions and questions about these bonuses are immense and complicated from questioning if school presidents and athletic directors also took performance bonuses for the 2020 year, as well? Did the presidents and chancellors only agree to cuts if they would reaccumulate that money in bonuses? Did presidents and athletic directors take the agreed-upon cuts knowing that the commissioner and other higher-ups would be receiving bonuses? No matter what occurred, clear steps were not taken on behalf of upper management to allow there to be a reported 3.55 million dollars available to give themselves while preparing to cut almost fifty percent of their employees.
For now, Scott has done a relatively solid job guiding, not leading, the Pac-12 during the pandemic. He partnered with the Quidel Corporation to bring rapid tests to athletic programs and worked with Oregon and California governors to allow full practices to begin. The latter only occurred after the Big Ten announced they would be changing course and play. A vote will take place on Thursday by the board to decide if football will be played after all. The expected start date is October 31.