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February 9, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Pac-10 considering starting its own network, expansion

***UPDATE 12:41 p.m.***
In a story Monday, Bud Withers broke the news of the Pac-10 hiring former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg to be the new deputy commissioner.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said Weiberg would help him decide if the conference will expand and begin a new league TV network.
“A Pac-10 network was something that we were going to seriously explore,” Scott said on the conference call Tuesday. “The timing is such that now that we’re less than a year away from our negotiating period, our analysis and evaluation has to get more serious and more rigorous. Kevin will be an absolutely key player in that with his in-depth background.”
Weiberg was deputy to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany from 1989 to 1998. He was “instrumental in the integration of Penn State into the conference,” according to the Pac-10 and he worked 18 months for the Big Ten Network, a venture that will pay that conference $2.8 billion over 25 years.
“There’s quite a few similarities between what I observed and worked on in the Big Ten and the possibility of this, again just a possibility for the Pac-10,” Weiberg said on the conference call.
Scott said he would take the next 12 months to consider the expansion issue. Scott said he will not set up an expansion committee or task force, but plans to consult with university presidents.
“To me the logic if the Pac-10 is going to think about expanding, now is our window,” Scott said. “The reason being if you’re going to consider a reconstruction of the conference, there should be a value proposition associated with that and given that we’re about to have negotiations regarding our media rights, it makes sense that if you’re going to do it, to do it when you can monetize it and get value from it commercially, in terms of greater exposure for your conference.
“If we’re going to consider this in the forseeable future, it really is in the next 12 months.”
When asked the biggest hurdles to expansion, Scott said: “There are several (conflict) issues, but fundamentally the institutions would have to be a fit academically and culturally with the Pac-10.
“That’s paramount importance to our presidents and chancellors. And then there are other economic and athletic considerations such as the increased cost that would be involved, increased travel that would be involved … you look at how that’s all set against the revenue could potentially be greater, exposure into more markets is possible. Recruiting opportunities. The impact on your media negotiations. So there’s a whole analysis you would go through in terms of cost benefit.”
Scott said the conference has has no serious discussions at this point with any schools regarding expansion.
Scott said the conference basketball tournament will remain with Fox Sports at least until its contract expires after the 2012 tournament. He was not sure if the the tournament will remain with FSN, but has no plans of eliminating the conference, calling it “highly success and very valuable.”
Scott is considering changing the Thursday-Saturday game format in the future to give the conference more national television exposure.
Bob Condotta also monitored the conference call and posted an entry on the UW football blog.

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