Pac-12 commissioner addresses myriad of issues at summit

Published: Thursday, Feb. 9 2012 3:12 p.m. MST

"They are not only are a great opportunity for our student-athletes, but provide a great platform for our universities to talk about their academic programs," he said. "We're trying to broaden our perspective. It's a tremendous opportunity think about what's the brand of our conference and our schools that we want to project more broadly."

Olympic sports

Because of his background as a former professional tennis player and his most recent job running the Women's Tennis Association for six years, Scott has a fondness for the non-revenue sports.

Scott said the recent media deals will help the Olympic sports not only with more exposure, but the money each school receives will help sustain those sports.

"For the foreseeable future some of the pressure has been taken off the Olympic sports, which I'm very passionate about," he said. "It's my hope that over the next few years each of our schools will be able to operate on a self-sustaining basis financially and won't have to rely on university funding. It will also help our sports to recruit nationally."

Scott gushed about the Utah women's gymnastics program and is excited about Utah hosting the Pac-12 gymnastics meet in April.

He said the longtime success of the Utah gymnastics program "shows how you can market a sport outside of football and basketball with a loyal fan base, historical excellence and aggressive marketing promotion. I think it's a great model."

Basketball

The fact that the Pac-12 is already coming off a mediocre season and only ranked No. 10 in the country for its overall strength, is a big concern to Scott. He said he recently talked to athletic directors about it at a meeting and will meet with league coaches in May.

Scott believes the two down years are "an anomaly" because of a lot of top players going to the NBA after one year and schools losing top players for other reasons.

"I look at the fundamentals — we have high-quality coaches, very good facilities for the most part and a great recruiting base," he said. "What we haven't had is great exposure for our programs compared to other conferences. I think you'll see a turnaround."

Scheduling

Scott said the scheduling partnership between the Pac-12 and Big Ten, announced in December, is exciting for the league and he expects it to begin as soon as next year for basketball and other sports.

He said because of scheduling problems, football scheduling between the two leagues won't begin before 2017 officially, but that some schools, including Utah, might have games with Big 10 opponents before then.

email: sor@desnews.com

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