Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens Reveals Emotions On Pac-12 Conference Downfall

Oregon Athletics leave the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten Conference in August. Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens reveals his emotions on the Pac-12 downfall.
Oct 23, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit (left) talks with Oregon
Oct 23, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit (left) talks with Oregon / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon Ducks leave the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten Conference in August of this year. After being members of the Pac-12 Conference since 1915, there is considerable emotions involved in the change.

Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens has led the Ducks to historical success in his 14-year tenure. Mullens joined reporter John Canzano on his podcast to discuss his emotions as Oregon leaves the Pac-12 and the Pac-12 Network goes dark on June 30th. Mullens also shares his biggest concern for college athletics in the next decade.

"Obviously having been here 14 years, I have a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the start of the (Pac-12) Network," Mullens said on The Bald Faced Truth. "Obviously (I) spent a considerable time over the last few years to try to get a deal, to keep the Pac-12 together. It will be sad."

"I’ve had a lot of great colleagues, a lot of great memories. There will be an emotion of sadness as we close this chapter," Mullens said.

Oct 23, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit (left) talks with Oregon
Oct 23, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit (left) talks with Oregon / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 was ultimately torn apart from because a media rights deal couldn’t be secured to match its competitors. With the Big Ten, Oregon has secured a spot in one of the two powerhouse conferences in the new landscape of college football. The 'Big Two' - aka Big Ten and SEC Conference - have media rights deals that provide yearly payouts to their institutions upwards of $70 million.

Oregon is in position of influence in the Big Ten. Most recently, the Big Ten and SEC were reportedly close to departing the College Football Playoff before finalizing a deal that met their demands.

What does college athletics look like in 10 years? Mullens said there is almost no predicting what the college athletics landscape looks like even three or five years from now. 

“We are in this unique time of rapid change that will dramatically change the model," Mullens said. "So, as we ramp up during this period of NIL and immediate transfer… What I hope for, and I don’t know if this is what I see (happening), is that all the great things about have a broad base athletics department still exist."

"At Oregon, we love having 20 sports," Mullens continued. "We love having 450 student-athletes. We love being able to support Olympics-hopefuls through full scholarships. I hope in 10 years we still have broad base athletic programs and that it isn’t just narrowed down to a few. That is my concern."

In the Big Ten, the Ducks are set to receive $30-35 million annually, according to ESPN, while other the other institutions earn around $60 million. Oregon's share will increase by $1 million every year of the Big Ten’s seven-year television deal with Fox, CBS and NBC. Oregon will become a full-earning member when the league agrees to its next media contract.

The Ducks football team already has one of the best odds to win the Big Ten Championship, with the expansion to 18 teams for the 2024 college football season.

Oregon State and Washington State hope to keep the Pac-12 alive, albeit as a conference lower on the totem pole in CFB than it was.

Washington, USC and UCLA will join Oregon in the Big Ten. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah left for the Big 12 Conference. Stanford and California head to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Oregon coach Dan Lanning, left, and Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullen celebrate the win over Utah
Oregon coach Dan Lanning, left, and Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullen celebrate the win over Utah / Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard / USA

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Bri Amaranthus

BRI AMARANTHUS