The Pac-10's Tom Hansen, the longest-tenured Division-I conference commissioner in the country, will retire next summer after 26 years on the job.
"When I started there in the 1960s, it was the Pac-5, Pac-6, then Pac-8," Hansen said in a phone interview Monday. "Then, in 1978, the Arizonas came in. I've seen it grow so much."
Hansen will step down effective July 1, 2009. So far, Pac-10 teams have won 204 NCAA championships during his time running the league and he has seen the emergence of Pac-10 football and basketball in recent years -- including men's basketball being widely considered the strongest conference in the nation this past season.
To me that last sentence really says it all. Regardless of what you feel about our conference rivals Hansen’s lack of vision in getting the Pac-10 a decent TV contract for hoops will always be a black mark on his overall record. Some of Hansen’s other comments have left others scratching their heads, like his claim that the Pac-10 would leave the BCS if the BCS went to a plus-1 playoff format. His lack of getting the Pac-10 better bowl alliances has also left many wondering what the grand plan was.
Yes, the conference under his tenure has won more championships than any other, but the Pac-10’s exposure could have been better. Lets hope the next commissioner has a little more of an open mind and a little more vision.