Moos: Not much hope for Pac-12/DirecTV in '15

IF AND WHEN the proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV comes to pass, logic would dictate the chances of the Pac-12 Networks being added to DirecTV’s lineup would improve (given the conference’s relationship with AT&T). But in the near term, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos doesn’t see much reason for optimism.

Although roughly six months exist between now and the start of the Pac-12 football season, Moos tells he doesn’t think there will be a meeting of the minds involving DirecTV and the Pac-12 by the time the season begins.

“From what I’m hearing, I would not put a lot of hope into that partnership occurring for the 2015-16 academic year,” said Moos.

Long term, Moos remains optimistic.

“I certainly think in time we’re going to see a nice bit of revenue come to all of us from the Pac-12 Networks -- it’s just a matter of when, and DirecTV is certainly a big piece of that,” said Moos.

Moos said the Pac-12 Networks was a lively topic of discussion during some short but productive Pac-12 council meetings that took place in Las Vegas during the men’s basketball tournament.

“Primarily in the Athletic Directors portion of the meetings, it was centered around the Pac-12 Networks: Where are we now, how is it serving us and where do we expect to go from here,” Moos said. “My feeling is that it has served us well in some areas -- particularly in exposure, which in turn helps recruiting. I think it’s really helped to showcase our institution, and the conference in general, across the country. That exposure has shown we can arguably be tabbed the nation's toughest conference in football top to bottom.”

Revenue from the Pac-12 Networks has been slow to gather steam. The Pac-12 fully owns their network, unlike the SEC (ESPN) or the Big Ten (Fox). Ownership means a bigger slice of the profits -- great in later years -- but it also means financing all the costs, which is not so great in the early years. A recent projection by the Mercury News’ Jon Wilner calls for Pac-12 schools to clear only about $250,000 per school in Pac-12 Networks revenue in 2017-18.

“Some of my colleagues are not extremely patient in that regard, and certainly we are all looking for ways to balance our budgets and grow our programs,” said Moos. “But we’re starting to make progress in a revenue stream. And personally, I’m confident we’re heading in the right direction with the Pac-12 Networks.”

It is estimated DirecTV’s inclusion of the Pac-12 Networks would bring in an estimated $3-5 million per school.

Meanwhile, the big Pac-12 summer meetings, with the Presidents and ADs in attendance, will take place in early June this year at the Coeur D'Alene Resort.

Moos said two topics to be discussed include settling all the details on 1) providing the full cost of attendance to scholarship athletes and 2) how guaranteeing four-year scholarships will work in the equivalency sports, which in most cases are not a full scholie. (The Pac-12 back in October pledged to guarantee four-year scholies, add stipends to cover the full cost of attendance in 2015-16, likely in the $2,000 to $5,000 range per athlete depending on the university, improve health care benefits and liberalize transfer rules).

Washington State is hosting those meetings in Coeur D'Alene,” Moos said. “And we’ll need to iron out those two things because they take effect at the beginning of the school year. I believe we’ll walk away from those meetings having made some decisions there.

“Keep in mind we have a fabulous group of CEO’s – the Presidents and Chancellors -- and at the end of the day, they have the final vote. I go back a long ways and my feeling is that for the most part they’re all very much engaged, much more than in past years. The monetary aspects of intercollegiate athletes, the student-athlete’s welfare… those issues have really brought the CEO’s into the picture, much more than they were previously.”

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