I had a chance to talk via phone with UW AD Scott Woodward as he was leaving Phoenix to return to Seattle from the conference meetings to talk about the Pac-12’s new TV deal.
As you might imagine, he was happy with it, saying that “the important thing is that now this guarantees that we can continue to be a self-sustaining program going into the next decade. That’s what it does, because we have enourmous pressures on increased expenses, whether it be tuition or travel with the price of fuel going up or salaries and the market. This allows us to really be financially secure.”
I tried to ask Woodward a few of the most-asked questions some of you have asked me about what this might mean for UW. Here are a few of those points:
— Woodward said he does not envision UW using the money to revive any programs that have been cut. “We are at the correct amount of sports, and I think this allows us to be competitive in the sports that we do compete in,” he said.
— Woodward said the money will not necessarily go directly to help pay for the renovation of Husky Stadium but that “it will give us financial security so we don’t have to bang on the university for any money.”
— So what will the money be used for? Initially, Woodward said along with helping keep up with rising expenses, the school also wants to build back its reserve to be able to pay for one year of debt service on Husky Stadium, which is $15 million. He said that reserve right now is in the $6-7 million range. It’s also important to recall that the figures bandied about $3 billion over 12 years, are an average and the money may be smaller at beginning. It also won’t start coming until the 2012-13 fiscal year. “We are not going to go on a crazy spending spree or do anything we can’t afford to do,” he said.
— Woodward said the future location of the Pac-12 basketball tournament remains uncertain. “We just don’t know yet,” he said. “We are still talking about it from the standpoing of what we are going to do and how we are going to do it. It will continue next year in LA (the one year left on the current deal) and then we’ll see going forward how that progresses.”
— The new TV deal calls for the conference to play four Friday night football games. Woodward said UW would be open to hosting those but that it would be worked out carefully with the state high school association as well as upper campus. He said ideally any Friday night games would be played before school starts (meaning September, essentially) to avoid a lot of issues.
— He said while some issues remain regarding distribution of the Pac-12 Network and games that would be on FSN (a channel we don’t technically get here, with ROOT Sports having the contract currently to carry all FSN programming) that there is zero reason for UW fans to worry that there would be issues accessing any football or basketball games. “It’s all going to be easily accessible,” he said.
— Woodward said he was among those cautiously optimistic from the beginning that the Pac-12 would be able to get a big payout (and recall he helped lead the charge for the revenue sharing plan enacted a year or so ago) but that the deal “exceeds my expectations but not overly so. … I’ve been very bullish on how good our product is and how competitive we are.”