Come this June, the Pac-12 will purchase one final plane ticket for current Commissioner Larry Scott, and it will be a one-way ticket to anywhere but here.
While Scott did bring the Pac-12 up to date and into the 2000s (His predecessor Tom Hansen had fallen woefully behind the times) with marketing and branding, it became apparent rather quickly that this former CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association did not understand college athletics, especially the two money-making sports of Football and Men’s Basketball.
Depending on who you talk to, he botched the 2010 coup to lure away Texas and Oklahoma (as well as others) to form the Pac-16. It would have been the very first mega-conference and ready to stand toe to toe with what the SEC and Big Ten would soon become. And while many of us admired Scott’s ambition at the time, one can’t help but think that he screwed that one up as well.
(The Pac-16 would never have been left out of the CFP, that’s for sure.}
But Scott comes in with his background in women’s tennis, his San Francisco/Silicon Valley-based “west-coast cool” attitude, and a hard to connect with, pretentious air about him. Perhaps the schools, Texas mainly, were thinking, “Is this the guy we really want to work with for the next decade or so?”
Perhaps they didn’t just reject Scott’s proposal, perhaps they rejected Scott. He didn’t fit in, he didn’t talk the language, he was an outsider. And as the years progressed and his sins as a leader came to light, there’s no doubt about it… he really, really didn’t fit in.
Over the past couple of years, most of us became aware of Scott’s irresponsible spending, bending (if not breaking) of sound moral leadership principles, and to put it frankly, overall hubris. So, no need to do a deep dive here. I wrote on it a couple of years back (here and here).
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If you want to dig deeper you can go to oregonlive.com, and in their search engine type in “John Canzano, Larry Scott” and you’ll find dozens of articles covering the transgressions of Larry Scott. Whether you’re a fan of Canzano or not, he was a leader in breaking news on Scott’s poor leadership, exotic spending, and ethically challenged nature.
Perhaps Scott will go on to find success in a different industry. One that is more in tune with his Gordon Gekko type of leadership skills, because college athletics certainly wasn’t it.
It’s now up to the Pac-12 CEO Group, headed by Oregon President Michael Schill, to get it right. They must make a home-run hire. One who is likable, approachable, fiscally responsible, understands college athletics and understands that football and men’s basketball are the top priority. Take care of those two sports first, and you’ll see that the non-revenue sports will be in fine health.
And if they screw it up? No biggie. It’s only the end of the Pac-12 as we now know it.
Top photo credit: Tom Corno
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