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Pac-12 Confidential

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

December 13, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Scott spreading the Pac-12 gospel in China

Having struck out a couple of times in attempts to pull Texas into the Pac-12, commissioner Larry Scott has now set his sights on the University of Beijing.

Well, not exactly. But Scott is at it again, following up on a thrust he mentioned as a goal even before he took the job in the summer of 2009 – that of exploring Pac-12 marketing possibilities in the Far East.

He’s in the middle of a four-day sojourn to China, and attending the China International Sports Leadership Forum, at which he was to give a keynote address on the “structure and business model of intercollegiate athletics in the U.S.,” according to a press release by the Pac-12.

Scott, says the conference, was also to meet with government officials, event promoters and media companies interested in partnering on events and sports and culture exchange as well as distributing Pac-12 content.

Said Scott in the release, “We are uniquely positioned as a conference, given the international makeup of our student body, the international brand recognition of our schools and our geographic location, to make a big impact in Asia.”

Scott told the New York Times that he foresees the conference playing some games in China in the next 3-5 years, and that’s hoping to get the new Pac-12 Networks (due in August) into China.

The New York Times wrote that Notre Dame and China have discussed playing their 2013 game – scheduled for Stanford – in China. Bob Bowlsby, athletic director at Stanford, told the San Francisco Chronicle that there are no ongoing discussions with a sponsor, but added, “It would be a great cultural opportunity for our players, and it would be an excellent opportunity for exposure for the two universities.”

It could be difficult to market the Pac-12’s bellwether sport, football, in the Far East. But basketball and Olympic sports (which are executed at a higher level in the league than anywhere collegiately) could be prime territory for marketing.

As with anything Scott has taken on – well, anything short of Texas – he’s not to be underestimated. The Pac-12 has always fought the Eastern time zone tilt to the athletic world – the East Coast bias, if you will – and until Scott began advancing the idea of a look across the Pacific, nobody in the college world did. It might bear fruit.

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