Canzano: Pac-12 turned down $1B offer to sell equity stake in conference
Conference ADs say they're galvanized.
In late 2018, the sitting Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott presented his bosses with a wild idea. He wanted to go “Shark Tank” and sell an equity stake in the Pac-12 Conference.
The conference members needed a cash infusion. Their media rights agreement was outdated and delivered each Pac-12 member $10 million-a-year less than their peers in the SEC and Big Ten.
The “Pac-12 NewCo” plan was introduced by Scott to the conference presidents and chancellors at their mid-November meeting and was subsequently discussed in a conference call in December of 2018.
Nine months later, Scott went public and said the conference was unable to find a suitable solution. He said of the presidents and chancellors: “They don’t want to do something with a private equity or financial firm.”
Turns out, there was a deal on the table. Just not one that the presidents and chancellors could agree they should take.
The Pac-12 was offered $1 billion for 15 percent equity in the conference by a private-equity firm, per sources involved in the process. The biggest pushback to making the deal came from two particular camps — USC and UCLA.
“The Trojans have had one foot out the door for two decades,” said one source.
I wrote a column this morning about the moment of truth that current Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff is facing. He deserves some criticism for being the guy in charge when the conference lost the Los Angeles’ universities to the Big Ten. Now, Kliavkoff gets a chance to do something about it.
Two other things I learned today…
• CONFIDENCE: The talk about the Big 12 Conference poaching Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado is dramatically overstated. I don’t blame the Big 12 for angling and dreaming about possibly adding a Pac-12 university. I don’t blame conference universities for making a contingency plan. But I’m convinced that the Pac-12’s remaining 10 members are galvanized right now.
How confident are the ADs themselves that they’ll stick together?
I asked two.
First one said, “Confident.”
The second said: “Feel very confident — and we have good options.”
• TRAVEL ISSUE: There’s already some soft grumbling about Big Ten coming from the non-football sports at USC and UCLA. The travel for Olympic sports entities is going to be an issue. Former Nebraska AD Bill Moos told me it took a toll on the Huskers’ sports teams. I wonder how much it will affect recruiting. Said one Pac-12 insider: “Might we hear strains of ‘Pat Haden would never have allowed this…’”?
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Had a niece who played a "minor" sport and travel, especially mid-week, can be problematic. Hope the Pac10 members tell USC/UCLA to stick it if they propose a hybrid conference solely for minor sports because they tire of traveling east. You sow what your wrought. Maybe the Mt. West will take their minor sports teams, or maybe UCLA will eventually want out of Big Ten.
Oregon AD: "The Pac10 is galvanized!"
Oregon AD secretary: "Uh, excuse me sir, but the Big 10 is on the phone--they've changed their mind and wants to talk to you about joining."
Oregon AD: "Uh, I meant 'Compromised'! Gotta run...later."