A Pac-12 loan program with no football? It's a possibility

Vinay Simlot

The Pac-12 is preparing a loan program for its member schools to offset costs, if there is no football season this fall.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reviewed internal conference documents and spoke to several sources who said each university would be eligible for a maximum of $83 million at 3.75% interest over ten years. However, sources cautioned Wilner that the terms of the loan (3.75% over ten years) have not been finalized.

On a Zoom call with reporters on July 13, Colorado Athletic Director Rick George said even though he believed there would be a football season in the fall, the athletic department is preparing contingency plans if the season were to be canceled. In that same call, George said the cancellation would create a loss of “around” $40 million for the athletic department.

BuffsCountry reached out to the athletic department to see if the loan was one of the contingency plans, but haven't heard back yet. 

According to emails obtained by Wilner, Commissioner Larry Scott is working on the loan program with the Raine group—an investment bank that specializes in sports deals. The group was originally hired 18 months ago to explore long term partnerships with media companies and enhance the value of Pac-12 media rights.

The current media deals with Fox and ESPN are worth $1.2 billion. That value would be closer to $917 million between 2022-2024 if the season were to be canceled. Those contracts are expected to be used as collateral for the loan. 

If all member universities took the full loan amount, the Pac-12 would need $996 million, though Wilner expects most schools to take “substantially less” than the maximum $83 million.

Emails obtained by Wilner suggest California’s chancellor Carol Christ was the first to mention the idea of using the conference to borrow money for member universities. Christ declined to comment for Wilner's article, saying through a spokesperson the loan program “is a complicated issue that is still under discussion.”

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