Pac-10 begins exploring future TV arrangements

2010-02-09T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:53:59Z Pac-10 begins exploring future TV arrangements Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 09, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The Pac-10's television home, and maybe even the days it plays basketball games, could change in two years when the league's current deal expires.

Perhaps in preparation for those contract talks, commissioner Larry Scott made his first major personnel move Monday, hiring a television expert.

Former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, who also helped in the Big Ten's creation and distribution of its first-of-a-kind network, was named the Pac-10's CEO and deputy commissioner.

He figures to strengthen the Pac-10's position as it ponders its television future - its football and men's basketball contracts with ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports Net expire at the end of the 2011-12 school year. The league can't formally discuss contracts with its television partners until early 2011, but Scott said, "We're thinking about it strategically already."

As commissioner from 1998 to 2007, Weiberg doubled the Big 12's annual revenue to $106 million. In 2007, he oversaw an eight-year, $480 million deal with ABC and ESPN.

Weiberg left in July 2007 to become the Big Ten Network's vice president of university planning and development. For 18 months, he served as the liaison between Big Ten schools and the network's push for cable distribution.

Scott, who created Weiberg's Pac-10 position, said he "has as deep an understanding as anyone about the interaction between the intercollegiate world and the modern media opportunities we'll be evaluating."

The commissioner, who called the Pac-10's next television deal his most important issue, has negotiated big television deals before. As CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, he signed a six-year, $88 million naming-rights deal.

The addition of Weiberg could make a league-owned network a more realistic possibility. The Big Ten Network airs football and men's basketball games in addition to non-revenue sports.

"I do believe a college television network has tremendous upside and potential," Weiberg said. "It's a matter of reviewing your options, and it certainly should be an option that is discussed and reviewed."

He left his role as CEO of iHoops, a joint venture between the NCAA and NBA to improve youth basketball, because he "loved Larry's vision" and "wanted to reconnect into the college sports world."

Scott, the Pac-10 commissioner for seven months, said the conference is taking a "very careful look at" changing its traditional Thursday-Saturday basketball schedule "to create value for our television partners."

He called the schedule issue indicative of the Pac-10's challenge - to balance revenue with academic integrity. Any schedule change before 2012 is "unlikely," Scott said.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sports on TV