On a scale of one to 10, a Pac-12 president in the Northwest rates the league’s ability to produce a media deal by the end of June at a 7.
That is a positive for a league that continues to be second-guessed and criticized this week for a myriad statements and misunderstandings about what is going on.
According to the Seattle Times, Washington State president Kirk Schulz said he expects a Pac-12 media deal to be completed by the end of the month.
Speaking to his own Board of Regents, Schulz was pressed at a meeting on Friday to throw out a number on just how hopeful he was that the league would strike a deal before the end of this month.
“Probably a 7,” Schulz said.
That’s tremendous news.
A 7 out of 10 odds will make you money in Las Vegas.
It will win you a record MLB batting title.
But a 7 out of 10 jam rate in a war zone battlefield will get you killed.
Back in March, April and May when Schulz and other presidents were predicting “almost done,” it must have been a 2 or 3.
The optimism seems to have risen. Some projections of last summer were repeated on Friday.
John Canzano, an Oregon-based writer reporting on that meeting, said sources told him the new media deal “would beat the Big 12’s number.”
That number the Pac-12 is trying to reach or surpass is a reported $31.5 million per member of the Big 12 in 2024.
Pac-12 making more media rights waves. WSU president set new expectations.
Source: "We will beat the Big 12's number."
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) June 9, 2023
That sent a ripple around media circles eager to find any updates or news to feed a growing army of people from coast to coast.
Canzano’s partner in a podcast, San Jose Mercury News Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner, opined that there is no way the league has negotiated for 11 months without having an idea of what the TV contract is worth.
I don't know where the final valuation will land, and I don't know exactly what has been shared with the schools. But does anyone think that after 11 months of negotiations and (verbally) agreeing to a GOR, they are flying blind on the $$$s? C'mon people. https://t.co/TWfCl9PGfP
— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) June 10, 2023
But such an assumption isn’t without the big question: Nobody has really seen actual contractual figures on the proposed TV deal as of Friday, have they?
This comes at a time when there are rumors that Colorado and possibly Arizona may bolt for the Big 12.
Other schools are trying to discuss budgets beyond 2024, when the current Pac-12 contract expires.
They’re having trouble putting their own athletic department figures together without some semblance of money expected as they face a Comcast repayment that could reach north of $6 million per school. The league also faces a lawsuit from the Holiday Bowl for breach of contract during the pandemic.
Arizona President Bobby Robbins said he has not seen a hard number, and without doing so it is hard to make informed decisions about the future. He also said Arizona could move from the Pac-12 without Arizona State — he has that freedom.
ESPN’s Pete Thamel tweeted out Robbins’ comments including this quote: “I’ve seen forecasts and projections. ... I do think there’s good data on what the Pac-12 is valued at. I’ve seen those numbers. If we get close to those numbers, I think we’ll be fine.”
Robbins said he doesn’t expect a Big Ten or SEC number, but if the Pac-12 can come in third, the league will be happy with a bronze medal.
Thamel later issued a clarification that WSU officials still have not seen Pac-12 TV contract numbers and that is why a budget projection past 2025 was not forthcoming.
A clarification on the Pac-12 TV contact number projections that came out of Washington State’s board meeting today. WSU officials have still not seen the potential Pac-12 TV contract numbers. The officials were explaining to their board about why they were not projecting a…
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) June 9, 2023
In the meantime, both Washington and Washington State officials are fretting over athletic budget shortfalls and really need increased revenue. Hopefully, it comes through a bigger TV deal and expected CFP revenues.
After a Board of Regents meeting at the University of Washington, Mike Vorel of the Seattle Times summarized challenges of the Husky athletic department.
Washington hasn’t met pre-pandemic season ticket sales revenue, but has increased its coaching salary pool.
Wrote Vorel: “Despite a redemptive 2022 football season that included an 11-2 record, an Alamo Bowl win over Texas, a No. 8 national ranking and an undefeated 7-0 home slate, UW’s athletic department expects a loss of $5.8 million in financial year 2023 (which stretches from July 1, 2022, to June 30).
“Even though UW’s 93% season ticket retention rate is a historic high and the Huskies are College Football Playoff contenders this fall, UW projects that deficit to expand to $7.8 million in the coming financial year.”
Eastward, at Washington State, Schulz ordered a hiring and travel freeze to save money the last week of May.
Schulz blamed it on Pac-12 expenses associated with moving league headquarters from expensive rent in San Francisco to a more reasonable real estate market.
The old league headquarters rented by previous commish Larry Scott included building a TV production studio. The contract called for the building to be returned to its original form after a Pac-12 departure.
The estimated cost is more than a million dollars.
Despite all this money woe talk, you have to hand it to the league presidents — they are putting on a unified front that all will be well in time.
There is genuine hope that the remaining 10 teams in the conference will stay together and be loyal in this process — at least until actual numbers are revealed and digested so decisions can be made.
But taking a temperature check on the scene, it remains volatile. If athletic departments in the league are used to a diet of $30-million plus with College Football Playoff money and NCAA Tournament money and the numbers fall short for football TV rights, then some tough decisions have to be made.
For weeks it was reported the league had come to an understanding about grant of rights by all the league’s schools, but veteran TV critic Jim Williams out of Washington, D.C., said you can’t have a grant of rights deal as a league without a TV partner.
Gang - this is simple the reason for a GOR is so you as a conference member sign off on a media partner use your trade mark and other logo's etc for broadcast/streaming purposes. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A MEDIA PARTNER - YOU DO NOT HAVE A GRANT OF RIGHTS-https://t.co/aqiSQDFqqI
— Jim Williams (@JWMediaDC) June 9, 2023
Williams told 365 Sports in Waco, Texas, this agreement for grant of rights, or GOR, spoken of by Pac-12 officials is like a bunch of friends agreeing to go to a Chinese restaurant but not ordering anything.
It is an agreement for use of trademarks, intellectual property and game broadcasts. It is also reported to be more for some schools and less for others.
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated also explained what the Pac-12 did with GOR.
“For weeks now, Pac-12 schools have *verbally* agreed to a Grant of Rights with a merit-based revenue sharing model,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
“The key word here is *verbally.* Verbal can become *signature binding* with... you’ll never guess... a satisfactory media rights deal.”
For weeks now, Pac-12 schools have *verbally* agreed to a Grant of Rights with a merit-based revenue sharing model.
The key word here is *verbally.*
Verbal can become *signature binding* with... you'll never guess... a satisfactory media rights deal. https://t.co/kgKW3NoZSC
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) June 7, 2023
The announcement of a grant of rights agreement without signatures could be seen as a necessary step to show solidarity to a potential TV partner — understanding that when it came to actually signing, all parties would have to have agreed to a money figure.
Kind of like gathering the papers together before stapling and signing an agreement.
It may have been a good public relations move to satisfy the growing curiosity about status of negotiations.
Got to love college sports.
Seven out of 10 would get you elected.
Seven out of 10 free throws is about average.
Seven out of 10 success rate as a brain surgeon would be...