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GREAT SALT TAKES: Pac-12 moves on from commissioner Larry Scott

Social media was aflame with jokes, jubilation and more when it was announced that the Pac-12 Conference had reached an agreement with longtime commissioner Larry Scott to head in separate directions.

Is that cause for celebration or is it bittersweet for Utah fans, considering that Scott was instrumental in bringing Utah in the Pac-12 fold? Our friends and local experts weigh in.

MIKE SORENSEN
former Deseret News sports writer and columnist

Larry Scott is a nice guy.

Over the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to interview the Pac-12 commissioner at least a dozen times, usually in group settings. Scott was always cordial, never condescending and usually quite candid. Maybe he was a little too nice.

He just couldn’t quite cut it as the commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference. Scott was relieved of his duties as the Pac-12’s head man a few days ago, which really didn’t come as a surprise to many. The Pac-12 has made little progress in Scott’s 11-year tenure. The league is a distant fifth among the Power Five conferences and the gap has been widening in recent years.  

Sure, the league has its share of soccer, swimming and rowing titles to show that it is the “conference of champions,” but the league has fallen off the map in the two major sports, football and men’s basketball. Only a couple of schools have made it to the four-team playoffs in the past eight years and few have advanced to the Final Four ever the past two decades.

So what direction should the Pac-12 go moving forward?

First, I would get rid of those expensive offices in downtown San Francisco. Yes, they are quite impressive, but is it really necessary to be headquartered in one of the most expensive cities in America? The league could probably move over to Sacramento, still a central location in the league for about half the price and save a lot of bucks in these hard times.

In selecting a new commissioner, the Pac-12 needs someone energetic, someone bold, someone willing to stand up to the NCAA and other major conferences when needed. They need someone with collegiate experience (unlike Scott’s tennis background), perhaps someone with experience from the Pac-12 glory days (no I don’t mean Bill Walton).

The league must also decide whether it’s a good idea to keep the Pac-12 Network in its present form. I know a lot of Pac-12 people were laid off last year during the pandemic, so it may not be worth spending all that money on the network. Let’s get some better deals from the major networks.

It may just be that no one can make the Pac-12 a relevant major conference again. Maybe the days of winning NCAA basketball tournaments and having a legitimate shot at the football playoffs are over. But at the very least, could whoever takes over as commissioner, please get rid of those god-awful 8:30 p.m. football game starts? If the new commish can do that, he’ll be a success in my book.

PARKER VAN DYKE
professional basketball player, former East High and University of Utah standout

Source: This Is The Place Sports Podcast, Episode 4

Well, my first thought with Larry Scott was the money. The money was a big issue, I think, from a lot of people’s perspective. The Pac-12 was fourth or fifth among the Power 5 in terms of total revenue earned and Larry Scott was the highest-paid commissioner, almost twice as much as the SEC commissioner. And so with that, you’re wondering why hasn’t the conference –– with that much money that he’s making –– taken the next step in the national spotlight.

So it’s exciting. I think changes are going to happen within the Pac-12. Whether that’s expansion, more teams coming in. Whether that’s, you know, maybe a network deal . . . I think it was just the right time to move in a different direction. The Pac-12 desperately needs it as far as the national perspective . . . I take the optimistic look that hopefully they hire someone and the Pac-12 gets into a better direction than it is right now.

JIM BURTON
former Standard-Examiner sports writer and columnist

Source: This Is The Place Sports Podcast, Episode 4

Like him or not, he’s done a lot for Utah and Utah fans ought to be grateful for that — bringing them in. It’s turned the fortunes of the U of U and the atmosphere. I remember when it was a WAC school. So hat’s off to Larry Scott for all he did to help Utah, but I tend to agree with Parker as well.

Things didn’t line up. To be paid that well and the results not necessarily come through like they should, I think eventually you have to pay. That has to be settled at some point. You’ve got to be able to back it up and he hasn’t been able to do that. The Pac-12 has so many great pieces in place and they haven’t been moved in the right direction.


Listen to more on our takes on Larry Scott in our latest podcast:

This Is The Place Sports