Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott seeks greater national TV exposure

By Beth Harris

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 10 2011 3:55 p.m. MST

LOS ANGELES — Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said he's "laser-focused" on negotiating a new television deal that will result in greater national exposure for the conference.

The soon-to-be Pac-12, which adds Colorado and Utah this summer, is in talks with current rights holders ABC/ESPN and Fox, whose agreements run through the 2011-12 season. Scott said Thursday during the league's basketball tournament that he expects the process to take another few months.

"That topic is something I've been laser-focused on because we're determined to get a lot more national exposure for basketball and football than what we've been getting," he said.

"There's a sense the Pac-10 has fallen behind. We're fifth among the BCS conferences right now in TV revenue and that's not satisfactory to our leadership. We've fallen behind in terms of national exposure as well as revenues."

The league has already reached a deal with Fox to air its inaugural football title game, but the contract only covers one year because of the expiring deals with ABC/ESPN and Fox.

Scott said he remains committed to launching the Pac-12's own television network, calling it a "high priority."

The league has been working with Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency to develop the network, which is expected to resemble the Big Ten's network. The Big Ten airs lower-tier home football games, men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports on its cable channel while reserving marquee games for its broadcast partners.

"Not ready to announce that we will have a network as part of the negotiations we're going through right now," Scott said.

"We're determined to get broader exposure for our Olympic sports and women's sports, which the Pac-10 excels at, and we're determined to get every football game and basketball game on the air and not have any of those games dark."

The men's conference basketball tournament will return to Staples Center next year, although the format for 12 teams hasn't been finalized. It likely will mean adding two more games to the play-in round on Wednesday.

Attendance for the early round games has been thin, which Scott noticed when he attended for the first time last year.

"We were disappointed in the crowds last year, but USC wasn't in it because of their postseason ban, UCLA was down. This year will be a much better test with UCLA and USC very strong," he said.

"As I've looked across the country at other conference tournaments, weekdays at the beginning of the tournament are sparsely attended everywhere. We'll see what the next few days are like."

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