Pac-12 media rights: University presidents issue statement of unity as process churns on

Quiet for more than seven months as their conference attempts to secure its future, the remaining Pac-12 presidents on Monday released a joint statement addressing the unresolved media negotiations:

“The 10 Pac-12 universities look forward to consummating successful media rights deal(s) in the very near future. Based upon positive conversations with multiple potential media rights partners over the past weeks, we remain highly confident in our future growth and success as a conference and united in our commitment to one another.”

The Pac-12 is seeking a media deal that would commence in the summer of 2024. ESPN and Amazon are involved in the negotiations, according to multiple industry sources, as is at least one other major media company.

The conference is also considering expansion, with SMU and San Diego State on the short list of candidates. (Commissioner George Kliavkoff visited SMU’s campus last week.)

Each of the 10 remaining presidents approved the statement; USC and UCLA, which are departing for the Big Ten in the summer of 2024, were not involved.

The public show of unity comes amid mounting criticism in the college sports media space over the lack of a media rights agreement, with some reports speculating that the Pac-12 could fracture.

Kliavkoff’s pursuit of a media deal began in early July, when he received permission from the Pac-12 Board of Directors to “immediately begin negotiations.”

More than a football season later, there is no media deal, no decision on expansion and no grant-of-rights agreement that would bind the schools together for the next contract cycle.

Meanwhile, Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has secured a media contract (with Fox and ESPN) that will generate approximately $31.7 million annually for each of his members.

And late last week, following the announcement of a separation agreement with Texas and Oklahoma, which are bound for the SEC, Yormark told Sports Illustrated that he would begin to “aggressively pursue” Big 12 expansion.

He did not name names, but the comment was construed by some as a sign that Yormark hopes to lure the Four Corners schools (Utah, Colorado, ASU and Arizona) into his league.

All this comes as multiple media reports in recent weeks have suggested the Pac-12 is scrambling to generate interest in its football inventory.

The statement released by the Pac-12 presidents was their first joint public comment on the media rights process since July.

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