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 Their media rights agreement was outdated and delivered each Pac-12 member $10 million-a-year less than their peers in the SEC and Big Ten.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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