Commissioner Larry Scott’s news conference: On night football games, the hoops task force, DirecTV and streaming deals

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott held his annual tournament press conference Thursday between sessions at T-Mobile Arena.

Some of the information below will be old news to regular Hotline readers, but perhaps not all of it.

And semi-regulars might find a slew of interesting nuggets.

Scott opened by announcing the Pac-12 women’s tournament will move to Las Vegas for 2019 and 2020 and that the men’s contract with T-Mobile Arena has been extended one year, through 2020.

*** Note on answers below:

In most cases, the full answer is not provided because of length; only the crux of Scott’s comments are included.

On the Pac-12 task force recommendations for cleaning up college basketball:

“I can’t speak to the specifics of the recommendations now because they have not been vetted yet with our presidents and chancellors, and not formally approved, but I can share is that there are four baskets of recommendations.

“The first relates to NCAA eligibility and the NBA’s one-and-done rule where we are certainly advocating for elite prospects to have a choice to go to the NBA or an enhanced G League out of college …

“Second area that we’re going to recommend the NCAA look at significant reform around is recruiting rules and calendar and taking our coaches more away from recruiting through the AAU system and private promoters, shoe company-sponsored events, and trying to get more back to an education or scholastic-based environment for recruiting.

“We think education is an important piece of a set of solutions that we’re recommending on a couple of different levels. We’re going to recommend that rules be liberalized in terms of when young men and their families can have access to agents and the advice that they can offer.

“The fourth big bucket will be around NCAA enforcement. The FBI allegations and the revelations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office have certainly brought into focus some of the challenges the NCAA and their enforcement apparatus have. Certainly the FBI’s got powers that the NCAA doesn’t have, to be sure, but I think it’s been a bit of a wake-up call for many leaders in college sports that there needs to be more resources thrown at NCAA enforcement, higher caliber, maybe some outsourcing of what they do, and we’ve got more details around that that will be in our proposals.”

On night football games:

“There have certainly been attempts to go back to ESPN and Fox to see how you could mitigate some of those concerns about nighttime games. But not surprisingly they agreed to do certain things as a result of that flexibility. So if you go back to them and say we’d like to take back some of that flexibility, from their perspective that doesn’t necessarily make a lot of great business sense. Because, and this is also not always very well understood, the nighttime games in particular rate better in football, rate better than the daytime games for ESPN and for Fox.

“The last report I got at the end of this last season on ESPN was I think 16% better, on ESPN2, 52% better. Why? Because during the day there is a lot of clutter. There is a lot of fragmentation with so many football games. We’re the only major conference that is kicking off at 7 p.m. Pacific, 7:30. Of course there are less TV viewers nationally in total, but Pac-12 gets the lion’s share.

“So the business for our broadcast partners is they want as many good games in the evening as possible. That’s where the tension lies. So we try to strike a balance. We’ve tried to mitigate the concerns, our schools. We hear from fans about the game times, but that’s one of the primary reasons the broadcast partners agreed to do the things we asked them to do.

“So there is not much more that really can be done between now and the end of the contract which would be 2024.”

On the state of Pac-12 men’s basketball:

“I try not to overreact to any one year. I try to look at the trajectory, the growth, the trends, and I think a Pac-12 men’s basketball is in a very strong place.”

On the national perception of the conference if USC and Arizona were to play for the title (given their involvement in the FBI corruption case):

“I’m not really concerned about that. You can only deal with the information in front of you. I know both the schools are, at the highest levels of the university, treating the allegations very, very seriously. Both those schools have taken concrete steps with assistant coaches, in the case of USC a player, that they deemed ineligible to play the whole year and has since left the school. Arizona obviously sat out their coach while they were investigating and looking into the situation.

“There is no question in my mind that the leadership at the university is taking these issues very seriously and trying to take the appropriate steps with the information they have at the moment.”

On Pac-12 involvement in the Arizona/ESPN ordeal with coach Sean Miller:

“(The) Pac-12 didn’t have a direct role in that. It was really the school, the university leadership involved in responding to the media reports and the accusations. I had several conversations with the leadership of the university, trying to provide advice and council.”

On the Pac-12 Networks securing deals with streaming partners:

“I certainly anticipate you’ll see us continuing to add new streaming partners. It’s still early days in the world of over-the-top, Sling, Fubo, are important partners that we have.

“So, yeah, I think you’ll see over the next few years Pac-12 Networks continue to be offered in more of those OTT packages.”

On Pac-12 Networks distribution on DirecTV

“They don’t carry our network and don’t appear interested in carrying it any time soon. Our team I know has made great efforts. We’ve tried creative things. Tried to offer school assets for sponsorship and other things, but nothing has really gotten DIRECTV to the point where they’ve made even an offer for the network.

“So I don’t anticipate that we’re going to be on DIRECTV anytime soon.”

Why we need your support: Like so many other providers of local journalism across the country, the Hotline’s parent website, mercurynews.com, recently moved to a subscription model. A few Hotline stories will remain free each month (as will the newsletter), but for access to all content, you’ll need to subscribe. The good news for Hotline faithful: I’ve secured a discount: 12 cents per day for 12 months. Click here to subscribe. And thanks for your loyalty.

*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to pac12hotline@bayareanewsgroup.com

*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

blog comments powered by Disqus