The Pac-12 Conference should continue to pursue offers for a private equity sale of the league’s media rights so that its dozen member institutions could see a boost of revenue in the coming years, CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano said March 16 at a Pac-12 news conference in Las Vegas.
DiStefano, chair of the league’s executive group, and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott met earlier in the day with other Pac-12 chancellors, presidents, athletic directors and conference executive staff where they discussed student-athlete health and wellness programs, possible sites for the 2020 football championship game, an external review of football officiating practices and media rights.
The Pac-12 Conference, under the leadership of the chancellors and presidents, earlier this year announced it would explore the sale of a minority stake in the wholly owned Pac-12 Networks and the conference’s media rights to broadcast major sporting events (currently held by ESPN and Fox) when that contract expires in 2024.
DiStefano told media gathered at the T-Mobile Arena for the Pac-12 men’s basketball title game that there is significant interest from multiple parties.
“When and if we reach a deal, this would benefit the conference in two major ways,” he said. “First, as we head into the next round of media rights negotiations, we would have a strategic investment partner to help all of us maximize our value for years to come.
“Second, the universities would have an immediate infusion of revenue that would close the distribution gap we face with our peers in other Power 5 conferences (such as the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference). This would help our campuses tremendously in meeting unfunded needs.”
Since becoming chair of the conference last fall, DiStefano has ensured that presidents, chancellors and athletic directors work collaboratively with the Commissioner’s Office and have more collective input for major conference initiatives.
“Part of the reason I feel so positively about where we are is that our CEOs, ADs and the Commissioner are aligned behind our strategies,” said DiStefano, who also serves on the NCAA Board of Governors. “We are working in great collaboration and with a high level of positive engagement.”
DiStefano and Scott also addressed the sub-par performance this season across the Pac-12’s men’s basketball teams, who did not have much presence in the Top 25 rankings this year.
“If we want to be visible as a conference, our teams need to perform well in football and basketball. There is no question that success on the field can be cyclical and we’re amid a challenging cycle,” DiStefano said. “In the meantime, we remain focused on our mission to support our student-athletes on the field and in the classroom.”