McDonnell Podcast: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
CULVER CITY, Calif. — When Larry Scott officially replaced the retiring Tom Hansen as Pac-10 (now Pac-12) conference commissioner on July 1, 2009, it wasn't exactly earth-shaking news.
It should have been.
A few months earlier, Scott had resigned his job as chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, where he had been wildly successful in re-branding the sport.
Under the reigns of the former pro tennis player, the WTA saw its sponsorship money increase over five times. He brought in mega-companies such as Gatorade to sponsor the association, and in his six-year tenure, the WTA saw a 250 percent increase in total revenue.
He also was one of the first to push for equal pay for men and women at the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Wimbledon and the French Open were notorious for under-paying female competitors in comparison to their male counterparts. Scott felt this was unacceptable, and due to his constant pressure, all four Grand Slam events now have equal prize money for women and men.
This is a man who gets things done and has a clear chronological timetable on when to implement the changes.
When Scott was chosen to run the conference, he made it clear to anyone who asked that the then-Pac-10 was not getting the national publicity it deserved and that he and his staff would address it right away. After all, with more than 400 total national championships, they own more than any other conference.
Scott kept his word, organizing a coach's tour of New York, hitting all the prominent sports outlets and giving the conference a much-needed boost in the publicity area.
"We felt that the conference had never really gotten the exposure it deserved, and we definitely wanted to make that a priority." said Scott, speaking at the Pac-12 Media Day at Sony Studios on July 26. "Some people out there were a little surprised that we would take such a big jump right away. But it's paying off for us with the recognition we're getting throughout the country. And it's certainly been a big positive in bringing in more revenue for our schools."
There was also the establishment of the Pac-12 Championship Game in 2011, and the addition of Colorado and Utah to give the conference 12 members.
"And that's where we see it staying for the next few years," Scott said. "We like where we're at right now and don't really anticipate expanding."
At least on the home front.
As you'll hear while listening to The Joe McDonnell Podcast, Scott is excited about the prospect of having the Pac-12 become a big influence on potential student-athletes living in China.
The conference has already sent teams over to the Pacific Rim for exhibitions, and Scott -- the NCAA's highest paid commissioner at over $3 million per year -- is not hesitant to say there will be more in the near future.