Larry Scott updates media on state of the conference
SAN FRANCISCO - With the conclusion of Pac-12 summer meetings over the weekend in Utah, Commissioner Larry Scott held a conference call with media members to discuss upcoming league initiatives. The audio from the call can be found here. Here are a few major takeaways from the commissioner:
- The recently announced student-athlete health initiative that was approved by the CEO group drew plenty of questions from the media. Scott noted that there are over 200 ongoing research projects in sports science and sports-related injuries already taking place on Pac-12 campuses - a figure that likely will go up with the conference committing $3.5 million in research grants. "This is the culmination of over nine months of analysis and study and discussion within the conference. The health and welfare of student-athletes are of paramount importance to our conference," Scott said. "The initiatives we're announcing are a great first step in coordinating the resources of our conference."
- There was a lot of curiosity regarding a formal league-wide policy related to limiting contact in football practice. Pac-12 football coaches did provide significant input and in many cases were already operating with policies that went beyond NCAA regulations.
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- Pac-12 Networks naturally came up after the conclusion of a successful first academic year of events being broadcast. Though the Networks are already on over 50 providers, full distribution remains a goal with so much fan interest in watching the content being provided. Scott noted this was as successful a first year as any other sports network out there and that it will continue to improve with 750 total events, additional football and basketball programming and more next year. He also noted that Pac-12 Networks are projected to turn a profit in year one.
- On DirecTV negotiations: "It's really hard for me to handicap it. We are now well established in having a fair and very valuable offer for distributors," he said. "We know we have a fair offer. They've said they don't want to do a deal on the same terms that everyone else has. At this point in time, we are as frustrated as our fans are and hope that DirecTV will listen to their customers and our fans to stop depriving them of content. Fans know how many games they'll miss... At this point in time, I don't have any reason to be optimistic about it but remain very focused about reaching out to them."
- Discussions with bowl games continue and the Pac-12 is getting closer to announcing an updated lineup for 2014 and beyond. Scott said the focus was on improving the quality of matchups and that will certainly be apparent when the new lineup is announced.
- Following the release of the independent investigation into men's basketball officiating Sunday, Scott said additional details about the officiating program will be announced in the coming weeks. This will include a new structure and a new head of officiating. He was pleased with the report and hopes that all involved can move on from the matter and that Pac-12 officiating will have a "fresh start" for the upcoming season.
- Scott was asked about the departure of former Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn and said the two had a good relationship. The commissioner remarked that the Buffaloes have ambitious plans ahead of them and all parties are taking a long-term view of how the school fits in the conference and how competitive the programs will be.
- The number of conference football games has been a big topic of conversation in light of the SEC continuing to favor eight league games for the near future. Scott noted that there has been and will continue to be a trend toward nine games (as the Pac-12/10 has done for years) with the upcoming college football playoff. The committee selecting the four teams will place an emphasis on both conference and non-conference schedule, he said.
[Related: Early Pac-12 football TV schedule released]
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