Nice to see you all for our 11th Pacific Life Pac 12
Championship here, obviously an important event
for us. An awful lot on the line for many teams,
a lot hanging in the balance, and we're looking
forward to a great competition this week, and a
successful tournament. Really just like to make
myself available, when we have so many of the
media here, to thank you for your support of the
conference during the year, during the basketball
season, and just to be available and answer any
questions that you have.
I do want to say at the outset I know there
is a lot of speculation about the future of this
tournament. This is the last year of our TV
agreements with ESPN and FOX, and by virtue of
our FOX broadcast agreement they've had the
rights to operate our basketball tournament.
They've done that through an agreement here at
the Staples Center.
So with our broadcast agreements expiring, the agreement here at
Staples expires at the end of this year.
No decision has been made about what
we're doing next year. We've been going through
a very extensive RFP process, request for
proposal process. A real testament to the partners
that have been working on the event here over the
years, AEG and FOX, they've built up this event to
the point where it's got a tremendous prestige and
stature, and it's a very coveted event thanks to the
great work that they've done with it over the years.
So much so that we have multiple cities in our
footprint that have bid for the tournament very
aggressively. So we have some tough decisions
to make going forward and we've narrowed the
As we do every year, we've got our
different stake holder group that's meet this week,
including athletics directors, our faculty reps,
senior women administrators. And it all culminates
with the board meeting we have over the weekend
with our presidents and chancellors. So any
ultimate decisions about what we might be doing
would be made no sooner than that meeting over
the weekend. When we have a decision, we'll
communicate it in all likelihood shortly after the
tournament's over, if a decision is made this
So I know there has been some
speculation and some rumor and question about
whether a decision has been made or not, and I
just wanted to clarify it hasn't yet, but we've very
much narrowed the process and are close to that
So with that, I know there is no shortage of
topics of interest out there and happy to answer
any questions you have on any topic.
Q. How disappointed are you in the
sparse gathering here today?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, this day
I think traditionally during the week, work week,
school, et cetera, and like a lot of conference
tournaments I think it builds. Evening sessions are
always stronger. As the week progresses, it's
stronger. But obviously we'd love a full house for
every single round, and we'll always work toward
I definitely think that our student athletes
deserve to play in front of as big a crowds as
possible. But I don't think it's unusual for a
conference tournament to start off this way.
Q. I'm thinking mostly because it's
UCLA and USC, local teams too.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, people
said if I were better at my job, this bracket wouldn't
have come out this way.
So that's a joke
(laughing). We don't actually organize the bracket.
It's random, so it came out this way.
It's unfortunate that such an amazing,
marquise match up of the two L.A. schools
wouldn't have been at a different time, but that's
the way the draw works out.
Q. Ask you a question about the level
of the league right now and does your office
spend a lot of time looking into and thinking
about why the league had what is perceived to
be a fairly rough year on a national level?
Or do you just write it off as a bad year?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, well,
look, we are paying close attention to all important
aspects of basketball.
It's obviously very
important. There is no doubt that our conference
this year hasn't been at the level that people are
used to it being at. I mean, I'm often reminded
we’ve won more NCAA Championships than any
other conference, and we're one of the most
storied leagues out there in terms of our history
and our heritage.
So I personally spend a lot of time talking
to our coaches, talking to our administrators about
how we're doing. How's the outlook looking?
Seems like we're a little down. Any reasons for it?
You probably heard some of what I hear when I
talk to folks just in terms of the double edged
sword of having all this elite talent that comes
through our league, they tend to leave pretty
If you look at the lineups of some of the
NBA rosters, they're pretty well populated with
Pac 12 alumni in there. So there is no doubt our
conference is off from its historical levels this year,
but I know we've got great coaches. We've got
great facilities that are improving, and the outlook,
from what I understand, is very, very bright from a
recruiting standpoint and all of that.
The more I talk to people, the more I
realize it's a bit cyclical. All conferences go
through cycles, but I've got really very little worry
about mid to long term.
remaining one of the elite basketball conferences.
I know that nothing has been
decided yet, but a lot of speculation on the
tournament moving to the MGM Grand in
Vegas. If that were to happen theoretically,
they have the WCC in Vegas, the Mountain
West and the WAC. How would that work in
terms of scheduling so you're not all climbing
over each other?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, I really
can't comment on sort of a hypothetical, which it is
at this point in time. But I certainly can confirm
that they're one of the bidders for the tournament.
There are other tournaments going on that week,
so obviously we would be up against other
leagues if we were there.
Q. Is each event its own entity and you
don't overlap much?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We honestly
have not thought a lot about other leagues and
how they schedule. Whether it's in person
frankly, I think more about TV and what our TV
windows would be and how that matches up.
That's actually the thing.
I think about the
audience we reach where we are, I think a lot
more about TV and how we'd maximize the
national following, especially this week, because
people are gearing up for the NCAA Tournament.
One of the things I'm very excited about in
our tournament regardless of location going
forward, next year we're with ESPN and FOX and
we're going to have more games with national
clearance from our tournament along with the
Pac 12 Network. So the total audience for the
tournament next year is going to be significantly
bigger than it is this year.
Q. So next year will you announce the
broadcast agreement for next year when you
announce the location?
already announced the broadcast agreement.
What sort of role do the
broadcasters have in making the decision
where it is, and how do you balance what it
looks like on TV with what it feels like when
you're in the building which are two different
announced our broadcast agreement when we
announced the deal with ESPN FOX and the
launch of the Pac 12 networks. We may not have
gone into great detail at that stage about how
broadcast will work for the championship.
The way it will work is we alternate back
and forth between ESPN one year and FOX the
next year in terms of who is going to be our
licensed broadcast partner for the championship.
Like we're going to be going back and forth with
our football championship game.
So for the inaugural year of the new
broadcast agreement, FOX is going to be the
broadcast partner for the football championship
game on that first Friday night in December.
ESPN is going to be the licensed broadcast partner for the first year of our basketball
championship going forward.
broadcasting a quarterfinal game, semifinal game,
and the championship game.
determined, but we will as part of this decision that
we're going to make, the exact time and the exact
broadcast window that will go into it.
Every other game of the tournament will
be broadcast on Pac 12 Network. So every
game, the men's and women's tournament, is
going to be broadcast on television through the
Pac 12 networks, and in this case, ESPN next
Kind of like we made the decision
vis a vis the football championship game, a very
important consideration from my perspective is
thinking about the national implications of these
decisions. So, as I answered the question before,
I tend to think about a lot of how this is going to
project to the millions of people that are going to
be watching on TV. As we've made efforts to
really position the conference as a national brand,
we're thinking about national exposure.
Now it is portrayed on TV, the energy of
the crowd, how that comes through, I certainly
believe that really translates into the feeling of an
So those types of issues are very much
front and center as we go through this process and
Q. Utah's having a down year, but
overall, what do you think Colorado and Utah
bring to this conference for basketball?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, we're
very excited about Colorado and Utah having
joined. There is a lot that's new about the
There is a new energy, new
dynamics, new match ups, new road trips, new
rivalries. So they brought a great energy, and
obviously through the addition of Colorado and
Utah, we've been able to achieve things of historic
proportions in terms of creating football
championship games, the new TV agreements,
launching a network, having Utah and Colorado or
Salt Lake and Denver in particular are two of the
top 35 media markets in the country, absolutely
critical to the success of what we've been able to
achieve with the initial distribution of the Pac 12
networks, the economics around that, the
audience around that, really is tick the boxes in
terms of what we hope for from a macro
perspective. And culturally this has been a great
fit. I can't point to any issues we've had in terms of
Q. I've had a couple fans inquire about
the 9:40 mountain start time. Is that time slot
going to be normal every year at this
tournament with the new agreement?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT:It's definitely
challenging our schedulers in terms of having to
think more about Mountain time zone as well as
Pacific time zone. We've had to deal with that with
Arizona at certain points in time in the year. In a
way it gives us some more flexibility in terms of
scheduling windows going forward.
But with these tournaments, we're playing
four games in a day, you wind up-starting a little
earlier than you'd like, and ending a little later than
But these are kind of unusual
four game a day situations that are tough to get
Q. You said MGM or Las Vegas had
submitted a bid. What would make them kind
of an intriguing or tantalizing option if you
were to move the tournament?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I don't really
want to comment on any of the bids at this point in
Q. How did the women fit into this
arrangement? Will they come along with the
men? Will you have a split venue like you do
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We've looked
at multiple models. Obviously the history of our
women's event and men's event have been
separate. The women's tournament was in the
same city but a separate venue.
Last year we migrated in the same city,
but a hybrid where the early rounds, that's what
we're doing this year, at Galen Center, and
semifinals and final here.
As part of this process we've looked at a
bunch of different models, together, separate, and
that's part of what we'll be making decisions on
potentially this week while we're here.
Q. Can you put your finger on reasons
why this event hasn't taken hold here in Los
Angeles as much as you would have liked it to?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I don't think I
characterize it as not having taken hold. It's been
here for 11 years. There have been years I've
read I think where there have been as many as
almost 90,000 people coming here during the
week, which is sort of a great result, years when
some of the L.A. schools have been doing
So obviously when you're in a market
that's heavily dependent on the local schools, the
interest is very normal. The interest of the event
may go up or down depending on how those
particular teams are doing.
Aside from that, we've got an iconic
venue, unbelievably professional organization, a
lot of marketing effort made by FOX. As our new
teams come on board, there's been a lot of energy
and effort put into it. So I actually feel very good
about the effort that's been put in.
I think everything that you can do in a
market like L.A., which we know is a tough market,
has been done. Through AEG, through FOX,
through our team, UCLA, and USC have been part
of the team working on it. I think it's been a great
To some extent, the interest rises and falls
based on the teams and their success, and who
has the fan base that's going to support an event
in a market like this.
Q. Lot of talk at the BCS meetings last week.
At what point do you feel the
conference will come to a consensus on a
COMMISSIONER SCOTT:It's a little hard
to say exactly. It's a process where we discuss
concepts. Get more specific proposals. I've been
in constant dialogue with our ADs, with our
presidents over the last few months, with our
partners at the Rose Bowl in terms of thinking
about our priorities.
I don't know that there will be a point that
our conference kind of declares exactly what it
I've been told there is a specific
proposal in front of us, but we're kind of far from
that point and there is a lot more work that I need
to do with my colleagues from the other
conferences to narrow options, to kind of vet them
to think about all the implications.
If we get to the point where there is a
consensus emerging around a model or two, I
think that's when conferences will be asked to kind
of officially vote on something. But it's a little bit
hard to predict exactly, but it's probably
summertime. Whether it's the front of the summer
or back of the summer is hard to know.
Q. Is there a number of teams that you
think would be a fair number for the NCAA
committee to select from the Pac 12 for this
probably a little too early to say. Certainly the
conference tournaments are really important.
From a Pac 12 conference perspective as well as
from the other conferences. So I think it's a little
early to say, you know, what would be fair. I want
to see how our teams do this week.
What is fair to say, and I think last year
was a good example, I think the conference is
probably undervalued in terms of the caliber of the
teams. I think several of our teams have made
great improvement. We've got amazing coaches
that really develop their teams well.
Last year was a great example for me in
watching Cal and Arizona. Arizona wound up
being some huge surprise to the rest of the
country. It was like Derrick Williams didn't exist
until the tournament started.
Well, those of us that are following it are
here and see it, but the rest of the country kind of
woke up to the caliber and depth of the conference
only after the tournament started.
So we've still got some lag factor in terms
of the exposure from our games. We're not as
national in our footprint, and people in our
conference as closely as some others because of
the way our television is distributed right now.
That will dramatically change next year with the
way our TV is lined up.
We'll have 44 games on ESPN next year,
another 22 on FOX, and 125, more or less, the
balance of our games will be on the Pac 12
networks. Every single men's basketball game is
going to be on TV nationally next year. That's
going to represent a sea change in terms of the
exposure and the ability of people to follow the
The bottom line is, I think our conference
is a lot stronger than some of what I'm reading
makes the conference out to be. It tends to get
proven during the actual tournament itself.
My guess is what's fair is probably be fair
to have a couple more teams in than we'll actually
get in. How's that for an answer?
Q. It seems like since you've taken
over a complete and total overhaul or remodel
or almost gutting the house would be a pretty
apt description. What else is on the to do list?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We've got a
lot that we're focused on at the moment. We've
got our eye on the ball obviously this process that
we've been talking about, vis-a-vis this
tournament. But I can't overstate all of the effort
and all that's involved in getting ready to launch
seven TV networks in August, as well as to kind of
take back in house, the running of the
championships, and the launch of our own digital
In addition to the seven TV networks,
we're creating the first ever college conference
digital portal where we'll be managing and
overseeing all of the athletic websites for our
They have agreements that expire over a
period of years when they'll then fold into our
But we've taken on an enormous
challenge. We're doing it all ourselves. We don't
have a media company partner that's working with
So 50% of my time is spent working with
our team that's developing all of that, along with
what we've talked about before and obviously BCS
and all of that. So there are some very important
strategic and business issues that we're working
on at the moment.
The other thing you've read some about is
while it's down the road that this will kick in, we're
also starting to plant seeds overseas and working
on developing competitions in China, in particular,
starting 2013. That's got a lot of traction as well.
So that's what I've spent a lot of time on these
Q. Last time I saw you at the Rose
Bowl, you were talking about deals you had
with cable companies and satellite companies.
What is the situation with that? Have you got
that deal with that Chinese network to have the
Pac 12 on them?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So we're on
track in terms of distribution. We're fortunate. It’s
very, very rare that a new TV network is able to
secure 40 million home distribution a year in
advance of launch, and we had that luxury, if you
will. As a result of that, we've been concentrating
on building our team.
We've now got a space in San Francisco.
A lot of work going into building it out. Part of
building a team was bringing on board a staff
that's going to lead additional distribution efforts.
So we've now as of this week touched
base and had preliminary meetings with all the
other major distributors across the country,
satellite broadcasters, telcos, like the AT&Ts and
Verizons of the world, and other important cable
companies. But those have been preliminary
meetings with all of them getting very positive and
warm reception to what we're doing.
As you know we'll have 34 football games
and often times the best game of the week. So it's
going to be very, very high caliber football
content. Same in basketball with 125 games in
several weeks thee best game of the week where
we get the first selection. It's going to be very high
caliber. So not surprising we're getting a pretty
good reception from people.
But these are negotiation processes with a
lot at stake financially and other commitments. So
I expect it's going to take a little while. We're
hopeful we'll have a lot of exciting announcements
prior to launch, which will be sometime in August.
But it's really impossible to predict the exact
Q. Do you have anything with Direct
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: No, we have
not announced any satellite distribution deals yet.
We have good ongoing conversations with the two
major players. Thank you.