Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott addressed several topics at Media Day, ranging from how schools should move forward with the NCAA and his disdain for the one-and-done set up in basketball. Here’s what the commissioner had to say:
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Good morning everyone. I’m Larry Scott, Pac‑12 Conference commissioner, and I’m pleased to welcome you to Pac‑12 Football Media Day here at Sony Studios. As you can see from the video, we’ve come a long way and I want to thank you all for being here. I would like to thank our Bowl partners who are here today on behalf of our schools. We greatly appreciate all that you do for our student athletes, the great experiences that you provide, and the partnership that you offer with the conference.
I also want to acknowledge that many of our sponsors and advertisers are here today. We greatly appreciate your support and thank you for being here with us.
On these grounds here at the Sony lot, history has been made and brought to life through television and movies. Our football coaches and accomplished student‑athletes take over the stage to kick off what we expect to be a Pac‑12 football action full of highlight reels, and story lines. Today’s activities are being streamed through Pac‑12.com, footage is being provided to our partners, to news outlets across the country and tonight at 7 p.m. on the Pac‑12 networks there will be a two‑hour prime time special about today’s activities. I hope you all will check it out.
Before looking forward, I wanted to look back on what’s been an amazing year for the Pac‑12 Conference. This again solid guys why our conference is known as the “conference of champions” for the 8th consecutive year the Pac‑12 won more NCAA titles than any other conference in the country running our grand total up to 459 NCAA team titles, which is more than 200 the next nearest conference.
Our eight national titles this past season came in five women and three mens sport, women’s cross country, men’s and women’s skiing, indoor track, women’s tennis, women’s golf and baseball. In addition to the titles, eight Pac‑12 teams finished second in NCAA championship defects, the rankings this year highlighted our depth as a conference across the board. Not only did Stanford win 19th consecutive cups, 19 in a row winning the here field cup, but six other Pac‑12 schools finished ranked in the top‑25, the most of any conference.
We had a Pac‑12 representative atop the men’s Capital One Cup. After capturing the conference World Series late in the year, the UCLA Bruins won their first Capital One Cup victory, the most successful program in the country.
On the basketball court, our teams earned 9 bids to the NCAA Tournament, five men and four women, the conference stepped up with new postseason tournaments in Seattle and Las Vegas that got rave reviews and proved to be memorable for our teams, student‑athletes and fans. The Pac‑12 globalization initiative pushes further this summer with four tours going on last in and this coming month. The Pac‑12 all‑star women’s volleyball team competed in China. We have upcoming tours with the Arizona men’s state basketball team and Cal women’s basketball teams and these transforms our athletes, with cultural exchanges.
In a few days, a delegation of Pac‑12 men’s basketball coaches including Oregon State’s Craig Robinson will travel to Shanghai to lead a clinic with Chinese coaches. This is in federation with the university sports China, the Chinese government responsible for intercollege great athletics in China who we have a memorandum of understanding with. Importantly these will lead to competitive opportunities as well as new platforms through which our universities can build their brand in this key emerging market.
This past year, the Pac‑12 became the first and only conference to own and operate its own media company. With the launch of the Pac‑12 Networks. Year one was a resounding success. And we surpassed significant milestones for content, production, and technology. Just consider, in the launch year, the networks produced 550 live events and 500 hours of programming, more than any sports network has ever down in its first year.
Pac‑12 Networks involved students across the board employing students from our campuses in over 1,500 production positions. Pac‑12 Networks offer TV everywhere at launch, so if any of you were able to follow on many devices not just your television and finally would he attracted more than 50 distributors in its launch year including three of the top four, largest in the country and more than 100 advertisers in our first year many of which are prominent, national brands.
We did this while turning a profit in our first year and providing long overdue exposure for our students, particularly in women’s sports and previously underserved Olympic sports.
There are plans for significant increases in programming and production this upcoming year. Pac‑12 Networks will be increasing its live event production from 550 events last year to 7750 events this year and we will be adding “must see” programs for Pac‑12 fans with unprecedented access to coaches, students‑athletes and competitions. The team at Pac‑12 Networks continues to work hard on adding the remaining few distributors that don’t carry the network.
With a month to go before kick‑off of Pac‑12 football I want to be up front with our fans who are still able‑‑ still unable to watch the network, especially those with DirecTV. As recently as last week our team discussed a deal with DirecTV that’s fundamentally the same as the 50 plus other distributors that are carrying the network. We’re still at an impasse with DirecTV, no closer than we were last football season.
Unfortunately, it’s become clear they don’t intend to take the network this year and with a month to go before the launching of the football season we want our fans to know that because they’ve got ample opportunities with other distributors to carry the network.
With so many good things happening in the conference unprecedented exposure, significant football games, and many other games from all over our schools that are going to be on the network, we want to be candid with our fans. We know they’ve been patient, we want to give them ample time to make new plans before this football season begins at the end of August.
I urge our fans that are intent on not missing their team’s games this fall to drop DirecTV and switch to one of the many providers that have it. All of our coaches and athletic directors that previously had DirecTV have now switched to a provider that has it and they are urging their fans to do the same.
Shifting gears now to the big topic this week, like many other media days regarding the current state of the NCAA. It’s clear right now they are at a crossroads. It’s time for a new vision. I believe there is a responsibility of the major conferences to provide thought leadership and articulate a future vision for college athletics. If we fail to do so we forfeit the right to complain about the status quo.
The movement and change over the past few years has transformed college athletics in many respects, introduced new and lucrative revenue streams, TV deals, raised important questions about student‑athletes welfare and at the same time there has been an eroding trust in the NCAA and its reform agenda. This is the time to initiate change. Unlike some of what you’ve heard this week I believe we should be pursuing the strategy of evolution rather than radical overhaul.
I spoke to president Mark Emmert this week, and I was delighted to see yesterday that he announced plans to call a summit in January to discuss exactly what that change should look like. I support that and I think that represents a positive step forward and of course there will be discussion between now and January about what the shape of that change should look like.
However, the current discussion we have heard this week from my perspective is too radical and too narrow at the same time. The answer from my perspective is not break‑away but to evolve into something better. It’s been too narrow in that its solely focused on the NCAA and the governance process. Our discussions shouldn’t be merely about the institution but broader, focusing on the future shape of the college athletics, what it means to fans and to our student athletes.
In my mind, there are four areas of emphasis that are being discussed and there are many complex issues to be put on the table, but really there have been four high‑priority items that we’ve all been focused on.
The first is student‑athlete welfare, the health and well‑being of student‑athletes should be paramount. We have made progress in head trauma in college football but more emphasis on Health and Safety would improve college athletics at the highest level. There are serious issues regarding student finances, including our desire to cover the full cost of attendance for student athletes. This must be addressed. On the topic of governance it’s time to acknowledge that one size‑does‑not‑fit‑all and that we need more flexibility in the system. We must design a structure that allows for appropriate differences based on priorities and resources throughout the NCAA. The structure must also give voice to more constituencies.
While our presidents and chancellors have an important oversight role to play we would benefit from adding expertise and experience of practitioners, athletic directors, commissioners and many others that have an important perspective.
The third area of focus has been enforcement. It’s fair to say confidence in the enforcement process is at an all‑time low. The fairness, speed, consistency and thoroughness of NCAA investigations must be reviewed as well as the impact these investigations and decisions have on our universities as a whole.
The final area of emphasis in our discussions has been the issue of one‑and‑done in college basketball. This trend threatens our credibility and the goal of balancing academics and athletics. It’s time to reconsider a system that currently allows student‑athletes to be on our campuses for less than 12 months. These are big challenges, and the fixes are complicated. I’m confident that meaningful progress can be made in the next year to put us down a different path. The support and guidance of our Pac‑12 presidents where we are on the NCAA board of directors and executive committee like chancellor Gene Block of UCLA we can restore trust in the NCAA and the collegiate model as a whole.
Now returning to the topic of the day, Pac‑12 football. The conference sits in a viable position as we enter what I believe will be a historic year in many respects. Not only have we enjoyed success at the top of our conference with two Pac‑12 teams playing in BCS Bowl games each of the last three seasons, but we’ve shown increasing depth across the two divisions. With such a diverse set of offensive schemes, anyone would be hard‑pressed to find a conference that’s going to be more dynamic and exciting than the Pac‑12 this year. This success is likely to continue with so many skilled players returning, the Pac‑12 is going to be on everyone’s radar with some of the nation’s most dangerous running backs, college footballs most electrifying receivers, proven quarterbacks with talent and athletic defenses. Three new coaches join us this season. It’s my pleasure to welcome Coach Dykes, Coach Helfrich and Coach MacIntyre. All of this exciting action and the imprinted signature of these three new coaches is going to make this regular season a fabulous one.
Also, a season yet again where the strength of schedule in the Pac‑12 is unrivaled. This season our teams are going to be playing 15 nonconference games against teams that participated in Bowls last season. With four of those games against non‑conference opponents who participated in BCS Bowls last year. It’s a point of pride that our teams not only host these games, they go on the road and play at neutral site venues against top‑quality opponents and our schedule is a course of pride, we love it from a standpoint of pride and I believe it moves us into position as we move forward the college playoffs next year where it’s been made clear that the question is going to emphasize strength of schedule.
The Pac‑12 is set for the future structured system. The Pac‑12 football game, chance to compete in the Rose Bowl a chance to complete in the last ever BCS Championship game in Pasadena awaits our elite teams. This career and this Rose Bowl will be to be extra special, the 100th anniversary and the 93rd time our conference will be playing in it.
Our partnership with the Rose Bowl is stronger than ever today and this year with it’s special anniversary we’re going to be adding content through our networks and marketing and promotion leading up to this year’s game. Some of our Rose Bowl partners are here today. Thank you for all you do! Thank you for being here. We continue to be so proud to be partners in the premiere Bowl game in college football and one of America’s great sporting and cultural traditions.
This season marks the second year of our new TV agreements and unprecedented and unrivaled exposure for any conference nationally. I joined our coaches for the past two days at ESPN as we met with with their college football team and analysts, and I can report that Bristol is looking west this season and for good reason. Some of the best storylines are going to be coming out of the Pac‑12. Additionally, we will increase our coverage this year with 35 games available nationally. Several for each of our teams. The most complete highlights and analysis, new behind the scenes coverage from our teams, later on you’re going to hear from Lydia Murphy‑Stephans, the Pac‑12 Networks president who is going to give you more details.
Finally, as relates to TV, we’re thrilled to be a major part of a new comprehensive 67 regular season college football schedule on both FOX Broadcast Network and the new FOX Sports 1. The Pac‑12 will be one of the premiere sports properties on FOX Sports all year long and also on FOX Sports 1 daily studio programming, nightly signature news and highlight shows and dedicated college football with great many shows. We’re excited that leaders from FOX Sports 1 are here with us today. We thank you for your continued partnership. We congratulate you and join you in celebrating your upcoming launch which we know will be great for Pac‑12 fans.
Finally, this season represents the last year of our current arrangements. We have recently announced our linuep for 2014 and 2019. Our goal with the new lineup was to build upon, improve upon and optimize when we considered an already very solid Bowl schedule. We like our Bowl lineup. We’re in the great locations, we have great match‑ups, we enjoy excellent television coverage and we’re excited to kick off new partnerships over the next year.
Today I want to address the topic of player safety and provide details on the Pac‑12 student‑athlete health initiative that I originally outlined in June. The Pac‑12 is dedicated to protecting the safety, health and well‑being of our student athletes. Because our member institutions are home to some of the foremost experts in the field, we’re in a great position to take the lead. Not only for our conference and members, but for all those that are competing in collegiate athletics across the country. Today we’re announcing new guidelines for football practice and participation that go beyond understanding the restrictions currently imposed by the NCAA.
While our athletics directors will need to certify these new rules at their meeting in Augustit’s been agreed upon between the conference and our coaches. It will be in place and ready for this football season.
The full details are available in a press release that is either already been distributed or will be any moment but I want to reiterate that these guidelines reflect the conferences and the member institutions desire to provide greater limitations on contact during football practice and provide additional recovery periods for our student athletes. Importantly, these guidelines have been shaped by input from our coaches who support our progressive agenda and have helped author it. We also consulted medical practitioners our athletics directors and importantly the student‑athletes themselves. Our conversations with the student‑athletes and coaches reinforced the need to design a rule that struck a fine balance between staying healthy and staying sharp.
We’re confident that we accomplished this. These guidelines give coaches the ability to teach players the proper football technique and mechanics on the one hand, while fielding competitive teams week‑in, week‑out and keeping in mind the long‑term of our student‑athletes.
In addition to the new contact rules, we’re moving forward with our research program and our head trauma task force. Our team, along with a soon‑to‑about‑named blue ribbon panel will set parameters and develop a funding strategy that will begin in 2014 with a $3.5 million initial grant.
This season we’re finalizing a deal for a few of our football teams to participate in a pilot study using RFID chips in helmets and shoulder pads to monitor safety. It’s this type of technology and the research that we’re going to invest in that we want to pursue as a conference.
I’m also happy to announce today that we’re launching a partnership with USA Football and its heads‑up program. It’s the national governing body that leads the games development particularly at youth and high school levels for a better, safer game of football. Today they will be shooting PSAs with all of our coaches to use throughout the season.
I am delighted to be leading a conference of administrators and coaches that are committed to the student‑athletes’ welfare and providing leadership national well the most comprehensive set of initiatives. It’s an exciting time to be in college football and there is no more exciting place to be than the Pac‑12.
On the field, our games will be as compelling as any. With the support of our institutions and the drive to remain on the forefront of everything affecting student‑athletes, we will continue to pursue an aggressive agenda on and off the field. Thank you for being here and have a great day!