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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

November 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Pac-12 names a chief of its new TV networks

The Pac-12 Conference continued construction on its broadcast empire Monday, naming Lydia Murphy-Stephans, a former Olympic speed skater, to be executive vice president and general manager of Pac-12 Networks, due to launch in August.

Murphy-Stephans is a former vice president of programming and acquisitions at ABC, the first woman in network sports television history to be named a vice president. She left in 1999 to become president of Oxygen Sports in the launch of a network. She went on to be executive vice president of programming and production for MSG Media (Madison Square Garden).

The league announced in July the formation of Pac-12 Networks in conjunction with four national cable operators – Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House Networks. The next month came the appointment of 54-year-old Gary Stevenson, who had a heavy background in pro sports marketing, as president of Pac-12 Enterprises.

So this is the next step in the establishment of a structure that Stevenson says will result in the hire of as many as 150 people by the launch.

A headquarters for the network hasn’t been announced, but Stevenson indicated it will be in the Bay Area. He said other competitors for the headquarters included Seattle and Phoenix.

“We have such a close interface with the conference, and the conference office is here,” Stevenson said Monday on a conference call, referring to the league’s Walnut Creek, Calif. headquarters in the East Bay Area. “To launch these networks and to be able to work very closely from a geographic standpoint with Larry (commissioner Larry Scott) was really the deciding factor.”

Murphy-Stevans’ athletic background will dovetail with part of the networks’ focus, which will be Olympic sports.

“The fact she knows the Olympic sports is very, very encouraging,” says Stevenson. “Not only does she understand our revenue sports in football and basketball, but the makeup of what it is to be an athlete in the Olympic sports.”

Murphy-Stevans cited “the integrity of the Pac-12, the brand, the richness, the quality of content” were the key factors in her taking the job.

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