Canzano: Oregon State president sounds off on Pac-12
A conversation with OSU president Jayathi Murthy
Oregon State University’s president Jayathi Murthy joined me for a 1-on-1 discussion on Monday. We talked about her path to the presidency, her upbringing in India, and took a deep dive on the future of the Pac-12 Conference.
The conference is currently engaged in negotiations for its media rights. Is a deal close? Are the 10 remaining partners as galvanized and committed as they said in a recent joint statement? And what does OSU’s new president make of the misinformation in the market?
Murthy said: “There’s lots of reasons for us to hold together. The different members of the Pac-12 understand it. All this talk about people running off and joining the Big Ten and Big 12 or whatever is just talk. I see a very different picture when I sit with the CEO Group. It’s a group that does want to work together and does value the Pac-12.”
Murthy was still working at UCLA, making the transition to Oregon State late last June when the Bruins/USC announced they were leaving the conference for the Big Ten in 2024. She’s new to the Pac-12’s leadership committee but Murthy offered some important context to what is currently playing out behind the scenes.
Some other thoughts:
• Murthy said Pac-12 presidents and chancellors have talked about unequal sharing of media rights revenue and unequal sharing of postseason revenue.
“There have been discussion about unequal shares, unequal media rights or the CFP monies,” she said. “We have had those discussions. They’re fair discussions to have. But nevertheless, I know that what sits underneath is a commitment to the Pac-12. We want to hang together. We find a lot of value to each other, so we work out what needs to be worked out.”
• Murthy talked about the Pac-12’s desire to balance a streaming partner (Apple/Amazon?) with a more-traditional linear partner (ESPN?).
“We’re all looking for a good, strong deal,” she said. “There’s obviously all the linear stuff, the streaming, we’re looking for a mix of those things.”
• If you’re looking for a hint on the expansion front, Murthy said of the current Pac-12 members: “We understand that we share geography, we share culture, we share a culture of academics.”
Think on those things when it comes to potential expansion partners.
• The president said the mission of higher education and the money in college athletics are sometimes at odds.
She said: “There’s money in football. There’s some money in men’s basketball, but athletics is more than these two things.”
Listen to the full interview with Murthy here:
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“We understand that we share geography, we share culture, we share a culture of academics.”
Make light if you will, but I don’t see these comments from a fairly new, possibly cautious president as meaningless or clueless — in fact, I see the opposite.
“Geography” — the conference footprint isn’t likely to be meaningfully altered through expansion. SDSU, perhaps UNLV … less likely to venture as far as Texas.
“Culture” — religious institutions (like Gonzaga) need not apply.
“Culture of academics” — doctoral degree-granting universities with genuine research credentials on the table; state universities that feature bachelors/masters degrees but offer few if any PhD. programs, thanks for stopping by.
This all aligns with most of John’s reporting. Shouldn’t surprise anyone. What we see is pretty much what we’re gonna get.
"The president said the mission of higher education and the money in college athletics are sometimes at odds."
No truer words were ever spoken.