The Pac-10 has a new Commissioner

The search is over the Pac-10 conference has found a new commissioner.

Fro the Pac-10 via the OCR...

The Pacific-10 Conference named Larry Scott, Chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), its new commissioner, effective July 1, 2009. Scott becomes the sixth commissioner of the Pac-10, succeeding Tom Hansen, who is set to retire after 26 years in the role.

Since joining the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in 2003, Scott has engineered the turnaround of women’s professional tennis, increasing the popularity of the sport across the world. A former tennis All-American at Harv ard, Scott is credited as the architect behind the largest-ever sponsorship in women’s sports, a six-year, $88 million title sponsorship agreement with Sony Ericsson. He also led the WTA in its development of the largest television agreements in women’s tennis history spanning viewership both in the U.S. and abroad.

I have read a number of posts on other sites generally praising this hire. There is no question that Larry Scott has done a great job at marketing the WTA. But lets not get carried away...he had some pretty good talent to help push his branding initiative.

Rye over at BN, in his front page post, thinks that Scott's solid contacts within the network television world will be a plus in the future negotiating TV contracts...maybe, maybe not. As Rye points out the only real national network that Scott will be able to deal with is ABC/ESPN. The main problem is that the Pac-10 is going to have a tough time breaking into the rotation there especially with basketball because the games start so late on the west coast. Its a good product but not everyone wants to stay up late east of the Mississppi to watch it...including yours truly.

The guys over at Coug Center bring up to me the bigger issue facing Scott...

So - we have the leader we want in place.

Now, we find out once and for all if Tom Hansen was bluffing.

Remember, it was Hansen who always hid behind the time-honored "the University Presidents want it, and I do their bidding," argument. Problem is, we didn't hear enough from the University presidents to determine whether it was Hansen carrying out the protocols of the conference or the other way around. When Pete Carroll speaks out against the BCS, do you really think the USC President is going to go against him? Do you really think Jim Sterk and Elson Floyd, who have brought WSU firmly into the 21st century, are going to squash progressive ideas from their new commissioner? Do you think University Presidents really have the time to worry about every single minutiae having to do with college sports? I don't think so. But this is truly the test of whether or not Scott can be successful.

Scott has made a point of saying that he will listen first - listen to the Presidents, the athletic directors, and his other constituents. From there, he'll have a decision to make: carry out the status quo, or push things forward with the Pac-10. My guess is the latter will prevail in most cases. The most pressing issue has to do with the BCS. If the conference leadership wants to keep it, we'll find out fairly soon where he stands. The good news, however, is that it would be logical for Scott to have free range with television deals and scheduling issues that have hurt the conference of late. Those are things the Presidents simply don't have time to deal with.

We all think Hansen was full of it when he made those remarks and Grady and Nuss bring up some great examples as to why he was full of it. The question I have is will Scott have the guts to try turn things around right out of the gates to put his own stamp on things?

I am going to reserve judgment on the whole in regards to this hire for a few reasons...

1-There really isn't much he can do in regards to setting policy until Hansen is officially gone and when Hansen does finally leave Scott will have a little less that 2 months to set the tone as to how he is going to lead the Pac-10. Addressing the officiating is one of the first things that will build a lot of positive feelings toward Scott. Will Scott lead from the front and not hide behind the university presidents or will he embrace the status quo?

2- There isn't much he can do in regards to TV until the contracts expire within the next couple of years. So, he can have the best intentions but until he is in full negotiating mode its hard to see just effective he will be in this area.

It's easy to say that anything is better than Tom Hansen but I am not that cavalier. The Pac-10 deserves solid representaion when negotiating TV deals and increasing the exposure of all the athletic programs in the Pac-10. Scott seems to have the resume' to do just that but until he stakes his own claim without doing it the same way that Hansen has done it I am going to take a wait and see approach.

I am hoping for the best!

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