Report: Pac-12 president worked with professor to calculate media rights value before ESPN ended talks

On3 imageby:Nick Schultz08/16/23


In early July 2022, the Pac-12 started its media rights negotiations. Multiple companies presented deals with the league, including one from ESPN that reportedly would have paid $30 million per school.

Reports indicated the Pac-12 wanted $50 million per team, though — and The Los Angeles Times detailed how it came up with that number.

According to J. Brady McCollough, a Pac-12 president worked with a professor on their campus to come up with that figure. They took it to commissioner George Kliavkoff, who went back to ESPN to make a counteroffer.

Safe to say, it didn’t go as planned.

John Canzano of The Bald Faced Truth previously detailed the exchange between the two sides, which indicated ESPN walked away after the counter.

“You know what we told ESPN after their $30 million per-school offer? … We said we want $50 million per school.”

Canzano then asked the source: “What was the ESPN response?” He was told: “Goodbye.”

Rumors and reports swirled about who the Pac-12 could partner with for a media rights deal, and streaming became a key component. Kliavkoff presented a largely streaming deal with Apple to Pac-12 officials in late July, but talks of a deal appeared to fall through. That agreement would have reportedly brought in more than $20 million per school.

Then, when the conference attempted to sign a grant of rights, that meeting didn’t go as planned as Oregon and Washington allegedly no-showed. Those two schools, of course, ended up going to the Big Ten as this month’s wild round of conference realignment kicked off. Oregon and Washington, along with USC and UCLA, will all be Big Ten programs in 2024.

UCLA’s defection also came up in the report as Kliavkoff apparently attempted to block the move. McCollough reported the commissioner held private conversations about encouraging the UC Board of Regents to block the move. The board had the authority to do so, but ultimately allowed the Bruins to join USC in the Big Ten.

Colorado had already declared its plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big 12, but three more schools — Arizona, Arizona State and Utah — all joined the Buffs after Oregon and Washington’s announcement. That left the Pac-12 with four teams to figure out what’s next.

Those programs are now trying to save the league. Longtime executive and former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck is coming in as a consultant, which is interesting considering his track record with the Big 12.