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Pac-12 Confidential

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

May 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Scott pulling down some big bucks, but who’s to argue?

USA Today has a piece in today’s editions detailing how much salary conference commissioners earned in 2010, the last year for which tax filings were available. Among other things, it shows that Pac-12 presidents threw a lot of money at Larry Scott in exchange for his enterprising efforts.

Scott earned some $1.9 million, and in addition, has a loan of approximately the same size, presumably for housing in the spendy Bay Area market.

Anybody take issue with Scott’s numbers? Yes, in the abstract, it’s a lot of money to pay somebody involved in an endeavor tied to amateur sports. Tom Hansen, Scott’s predecessor, made only about a third as much.

But it only parallels the sharp increase in salary of, for instance, football coaches, and in fact, it’s less than either the head coach at Washington or WSU makes. I’d argue that Scott’s cash is money better spent than that at a lot of schools paying as much or more for a football coach.

Scott negotiated the $3-billion, 12-year TV deal with ESPN and Fox, and also engineered the Pac-12 Networks set to launch soon. A.J. Maestas, president of Navigate Research, told me late last summer, “Four years from today, I would not be surprised if the Pac-12 schools saw $12-15 million distribution (each) from the Pac-12 Networks. The truth is, it could be 30-40 percent higher than that.”

Yes, a lot of that loot is being plunged into glitzy football facilities around the league, and in some cases, that’s a debatable exercise. But the money generated also helps athletic departments trim subsidies they get from university general funds, aids the quest to satisfy Title IX requirements and improves the lot of non-revenue sports.

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