The Pac-12 Conference announced Thursday that Larry Scott will be leaving as the conference's commissioner in June.
The conference called it a mutual decision, but Scott, who took over as Pac-12 commissioner in June 2009, has been on the hot seat for some time, especially during the pandemic-influenced fall football season.
His contract runs through the summer of 2022, but he has agreed to step down in June of this year and aid in the search for his successor. Scott reportedly received an annual salary of $5.3 million, although the economic crisis that resulted in financial woes for the Pac-12 caused him to take a 12% cut, reducing his salary to $4.66 million for the next year.
In making its announcement, the Pac-12 office stated the following:
The Pac-12 Conference announced today that following ongoing discussions between its governing executive committee, its presidents and Commissioner Larry Scott, it was mutually agreed that the Commissioner would not seek a new contract. The decision was made well in advance of next year’s contract expiration, in part, to allow a new commissioner to be in place to negotiate and maximize the Conference’s next important long-term media rights agreement.
The Conference and Scott decided it was time for new leadership after his 11-year tenure. Scott’s existing contract is scheduled to expire in June 2022 and it was agreed he will remain in the role until June 30, 2021 to assist in the transition.
The Pac-12 executive committee, including University of Oregon President Michael Schill as chair; Kirk H. Schulz, Washington State University president; and Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington, will immediately commence a national search for Scott’s replacement as commissioner.
“We appreciate Larry’s pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences,” said Schill. “At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to US and global markets on traditional and digital platforms. That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn’t remain static and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy.”
Scott has been a controversial figure as the Pac-12's lead administrator for some time, particularly during the football season as it tried to navigate the pandemic. The Pac-12 first canceled its fall football program, with the option to have a spring football season. The conference then reversed course and had a season that was shortened to seven conference-only games. A number of games were canceled for virus-related reasons, and ultimately a team that finished in second place in the North Division, Oregon, played South Division champ USC in the title game, and Oregon ended up being the conference champion.
Spectators were not allowed at Pac-12 football or basketball games this season to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, while other conferences allowed a limited number of spectators at games at certain points of the season..
Scott issued a statement in the announcement:
“I was in pro sports for 20 years, I’ve now been in college athletics for more than 10 years, and now is a great time in my life to pursue other exciting opportunities. This moment, when college athletics are moving in a new direction and with the Conference soon commencing the next round of media negotiations, it seems the right time to make a change. It is important that the conference be able to put in place the person who will negotiate and carry out that next agreement. Based on the recent robust valuation and marketplace interest we’ve received from traditional and nontraditional media organizations, I am confident the conference is well-positioned for continued success. I appreciate the support of the Pac-12 member institutions and a very talented staff, with whom it has been my privilege to work.”
Scott led the way to the conference's transition from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12 with the addition of Utah and Colorado prior to the 2010-2011 academic year. A two-division conference was created for football, allowing the conference to play a Pac-12 championship game.
The Pac-12 has not had a national champion in football or men's basketball during Scott's time as commissioner. A Pac-12 played in the national championship game in football twice during Scott's tenure, both times by Oregon, following the 2010 and 2014 seasons.
The Pac-12 had one Final Four team in basketball during Scott's time as commissioner, and that was Oregon in 2014, when the Ducks lost in the national semifinals.
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