The Pac-12 in 2020: An Indebted Year of Football Promise

Jon Joseph Editorials 25 Comments


As all Ducks fans are well aware, the College Basketball Santa ran into a COVID-19 blockade. No soup, or at least only watered down soup, for you!

Sabrina was dissed; the Pac-12 was stiffed. It was CBB coal and not oranges, for Pac-12 boys and girls.

Now, with the college football season on the COVID brink, things are approaching an existential as well as an essential, financial reckoning.

How big a spoon does college football bring to stirring the athletic department’s pot? One hell of a lot.

Here are a few sobering numbers from seven Pac-12 conference schools’ athletic department 2019 fiscal year reports.

CAL – Total Athletic Department Revenue (TR) – $92.6M, Football Revenue (FR) $38.1M.

COLORADO – TR – $93.9M, FR – $43.4M.

UCLA – TR – $108.4M, FR – $43.1M.

UTAH – TR – $99M, FR – $65.7M.

WASHINGTON – TR – $134M, FR – $84M.

WAZZU – TR – $71.7M, FR – $44.5M.

OREGON – TR – $127M, FR – $72.1M.


The Utes(with nearly 2/3 their TR coming straight from the football program) are set to finish the season against the Ducks in a newfound rivalry

That’s a total of $726M in revenue with $345.7M (47.6%) coming from college football.

However, the above numbers do not include ‘non-program specific’ revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars.

For example, in 2019’s fiscal year, CAL generated $17M in college football associated revenue including licensing fees, game-day advertising income and merchandise sold on game days.

Washington brought in $14M in non-specific income.

And, take a deep breath and wait for it, Oregon brought in $39M in non-specific income.

And these numbers do not include apparel and foot-ware income. Apparel deals are not based on what the guys and gals on the golf and tennis teams are wearing; they are generated from what college football and to a lesser extent, college basketball players are wearing.

Also, revenue numbers do not include school specific generated funds. In the case of ASU, this comes in at $20M a year.

So, as Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reports, it is entirely reasonable to estimate that CFB brings in 75% of a Pac-12 athletic department’s revenue.

And many of the Pac-12 athletic departments are already deeply in the red.

Washington State is running a $100M deficit.

UCLA – $40M. In 2019, the UCLA athletic department had to borrow $20M from the school’s general funds in order to meet its financial obligations. In other words, California taxpayer’s are keeping UCLA athletics afloat.

CAL – is running a ‘modest’ $15M deficit. However, even had the football season played out as it was originally scheduled, CAL was estimated to go an additional $15 to $20M in the red.

And Stanford, an institution with all of its sports supposedly fully endowed, has already announced that it is dropping a number of sports from varsity to club status.

Jon Winer reports that things are so dire that the conference is in serious discussions to secure a loan for $993M; $83M for each university that decides to sign the promissory note. The loan would have a 10 year term at a coupon rate of 3.75% per annum.


Pac-12 commisioner Larry Scott speaks to the media on virus concerns & financial debts.

The collateral for this loan? A Peter for Paul pledge of the $1.2B broadcast payments the conference is expected to receive in the next four years from ESPN and Fox. This, my friends, is leveraging assets circa 1929 and 2007. It is putting even more on the Pass Line of the next media deal. Prior to the negotiation of a new media deal, it is evidencing a clear financial weakness to the conference’s media partners. They are going to step up with a huge increase for conference media rights, why? A tech company is going to see Pac-12 sports as a good investment, why?

And this loan does not come in tandem with the closing down of a functionally insolvent network, a what should be 50% cut at least, in the conference commissioner’s salary. This, along with a financially responsible relocation of conference headquarters out of San Francisco and to a far less expensive location in the Pac-12 footprint.

No wonder the conference powers-that-be are doing everything they can to play the 2020 season; to hell with player safety. They are now paying the price for supporting a wholly-owned, ill conceived, conference network; paying $4M plus a year to a clueless leader; paying headquarter and operating expenses far in excess of the other Power 5 conferences; surrendering the Rose Bowl for next to nothing and having zero down-side planning. Including, taking out pandemic insurance as did, for example, the British Open.

My dear Ducks friends, this is no longer Jon J calling wolf; this is Jon J calling Pac-12 Defcon-1.

The Ducks simply has to find a better place to feather its nest. A place with cogent leadership. A place that can bring better media income to the bottom line. Internally, in my opinion, Oregon has to bite the bullet and drop a number of non-revenue varsity sports to club sports.

Jon Joseph
Georgetown, Texas
Top Photo from Twitter


Chris Brouilette, the Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.

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Announcement to ALL:

The Pac-12 has officially cancelled all sports remaining in the 2020 calendar year, including football. A “fall” camp beginning in January, with the season occurring in February is still a possibility.

Be HERE Tomorrow….

Yours truly is penning an article and I invite you to share your thoughts then with me about the shutdown, and your predictions going forward for sports in Winter/Spring of 2021.

FishDuck is NOT going away, as we all need this GREEN REFUGE from everything out there. We will still be publishing articles and will announce our article schedule on Wednesday.

I feel it….we all need a Duck Fan BUDDY-HUG right now.

Absolutely, like the finale of the, “Mary Tyler Moore” show. I can cite that show here, and everybody will know what I’m talking about.


The Pac-12 is scheduled to announce its plan at 1:30 this afternoon.


I mostly try and avoid commenting on these posts as I am afraid I will be too political. But frankly colleges need to get away from college football and mens basketball funding the rest of the schools sports. Yes the school needs to maintain x womens scholarships to match x mens scholarships and oregon likely his enough financial support to keep track and field but I just don’t think oregon merritts having a varsity program in most other sports.

College athletics needs to move from the hyperinflated costs in its current trajectory. I’m not arguing that coaches won’t still make a lot and that their won’t be massive tv deals for p5 conferences.(Despite the failings of p12n and scott the deal signed in 2011 was worth 3B for 12 years where a g5 MW just signed a 6 year 270m those are huge differences).

The pac 12 needs to reduce its expenses by 25%. the universities should be operating in the green or atleast at cost. I am personally disgusted when a school like UCLA or any university(Whose primary focus should be academics) is lending money to it’s AD. I don’t know the tuition rate at UCLA but I am sure it is exorbitant and students shouldn’t have to bare that cost. Honestly I think all athletic fees to students should be an option only if the student wants to attend the games.


Currently the NCAA requires FBS programs to sponsor at least 16 varsity sports, with at least 6 for men and 8 for women. Stanford could drop 11 sports because they were sponsoring something like 38, which is also why they won the ‘Cup’ for best sports program every year. Oregon does not have that luxury as it currently sponsors 18 varsity sports, 7 for men and 11 for women, in order to Appease Title IX.

(by the way, Oregon is the only school in history to sponsor less than 20 sports and place in the top 10 of large sporting universities as figure by that ‘Cup’. I cannot remember which year that was, forgive me)

With the new Hayward and Oregon’s rich track history, it will not be that sport, so one of either tennis or golf would need to go

On the women’s side, one / two of Acro, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, volleyball or beach volleyball could go, however I doubt the O could drop two women’s sports and no men’s sports and still be in compliance with Title IX, so most likely one of each would go.

I seriously doubt if cutting two minor sports would balance the budget.

Of course, the NCAA could change their number of varsity sports required rules, or one of the huge shakeups discussed by you fine denizens of Ducks, but Title IX is a federal law and is not going to be changed. Can you imagine the outcry if the equality of women’s sports brought about by it’s passage was tried to be set aside by the NCAA or an individual institution? Also, there are severe penalties for non-compliance, which would more than gash any savings made by ignoring the law. Since football teams have so many players, there is no way to cut many women’s sports and still match the number of participants on the men’s side of the equation while operating football, one of the reasons some smaller schools dropped football around the time of the passage of the law.

Mike West

Dont have time yet to read in detail, but like the browsed version. My first thought is if Nebraska opts to play if (when) the Big 10 cancels, college football will change forever.

More later when I have time to digest all this.

Read last night about the heart issues. Sports is changed FOREVER. The smart elite athletes will keep away from people to protect their livelihood (until they retire). Even in college, they’ll opt for online classes. Too much at risk.

Mike West

And I haven’t even considered what USC, Oregon and the Fuskies should do. Time to reconsider everything. All bets are off when it comes to conference ties.


You are so right Jon. Big changes are ahead. We will have to wait and see if some of those who are responsible for not having the Pac-12 ready for this financial beat down will stand up and take responsibility for it. Yes, I’m talking to you Larry Scott, it’s time for you to move on and stop bleeding the Pac-12 bottom line.

I would hope a revolt of the Pac-12 schools takes place against the Conference leadership and we dump all those who helped take the conference down the wrong path over the years. It certainly is time for the prime schools of the Pac-12 to look elsewhere for a home.

Be bold lady’s and gentleman, be bold.


Here, here, It’s time for the Duck to make like Butch & Sundance and take a leap, there simply isn’t any other option. Even if somehow, Larry was shown the door, however talented the new Commish would be, the inherent problems the Pac-12 has would still exist.

The Duck should get in touch with Traveler, over at USC andsee if he’d be amenable to finding a new pasture to play in. If he does, great, but even if it’s a nay, neigh, from down south, the Duck still needs to make waves and take his talents elsewhere.


Totally agree 30Duck.


I read sometime back that the NCAA had a slush fund setup just for situations like the COVID, however they spent it on legal fee’s before the COVID-19 showed up. Bummer as schools might have been able to “borrow” that moneys to survive this.

I’m all for Oregon to move on to another conference, but my only question is “when can we do it ??” Years down the road is along time and with Larry Scott running the show, it really twitches my britches.


If Oregon was to withhold it’s tier 1 broadcast rights that would really limit the Pac negotiations with the media thats coming up.

With all this clout that Oregon has I have to wonder why it’s not using it to control some of the ineptness of the conference leaders. I can’t believe that schools like USC, Washington, and Oregon don’t talk about the problems amongst themselves.

Lou Farnsworth

Livin’ Large Larry must know where some bodies are buried.


Ha, ha, love it.

David Marsh

I think Oregon only had 2 games on the pac-12 network last season… Nevada and Montana State… Everything else was on a network or at worst ESPN (maybe a foxsports 1 game in there). Also most of Oregon’s games were in a primetime slot.

For a down conference having a team avoid the conference network on a regular basis is a big deal.


Interesting, thanks