Pac-12 media negotiations could drag on into the fall

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Commentary on Pac-12 developments on and off the field…

Fall: Probability of rapid closure

Today marks an important milestone in the Pac-12 rescue operation.

Unless it’s not.

On July 5, the Presidents and Chancellors authorized Commissioner George Kliavkoff to formally begin negotiations for a new media rights deal that would begin in the summer of 2024.

The terms of the current deal with ESPN and Fox give those networks an exclusive 30-day negotiation window. If no deal is reached, the Pac-12 has the option of looking for deals on the open market.

If we assume the exclusive window opened the day after Kliavkoff received clearance, then today marks the 30th day. The Pac-12 should have a formal offer in hand.

Unless it’s not.

Our guess is that the 30-day window doesn’t close today and won’t close for several weeks.

Why? Because of the Big Ten.

The conference that recently ripped the heart out of the Pac-12 did so amid its own media rights negotiations, which are expected to wrap up this month.

For the context of the Pac-12 process, consider this:

The Big Ten’s exclusive 30-day window with ESPN began about six months ago, according to the Sports Business Journal.

After that window closed without a deal, it took another three months on the open market (more or less) before the Big Ten added USC and UCLA.

Five weeks later, no closure.

It’s day 30 (presumably) of the exclusive Pac-12 window with ESPN and Fox, and the Big Ten is still deep in negotiations with the same networks.

Our guess?

Either ESPN and Fox asked the Pac-12 to extend the exclusive window, or the Pac-12 asked its partners to extend the exclusive window, or the two parties came to this conclusion independently.

After all, the Pac-12 would like to know which networks have clawed back some of the Big Ten’s media rights and which have not.

And ESPN and Fox would like to know exactly what they are spending on the Big Ten.

We cannot speculate on the exact duration of an extension.

But if the Big Ten is any guide, and if we assume the Pac-12 will take its rights to the open market, we strongly suspect the process will last through September and possibly most of the football season. .

So ignore the calendar. There will probably be no news today, tomorrow, next week…or the rest of this month.

Neutral: reception of Kliavkoff’s performance

The sophomore commissioner received mixed reviews for his state of the conference address last week in Los Angeles.

It included a jab or two at the Big 12 and a candid remark about the resistance UCLA might encounter with its move to the Big Ten.

Many fans and media felt Kliavkoff was too feisty – CBS Sports even described him as “angry.”

Admittedly, the Hotline was surprised by his answer to a question about the Big 12: “As for the opening of the Big 12, I appreciate that. We haven’t decided yet whether we’ll go shopping there or not. (Yuk.)

We have two takeaways:

1. Prepared remarks were diplomatic; Kliavkoff only sharpened the arrows during Q&A with reporters, when that approach seemed a little more palatable.

2. He doesn’t care what the fans and the media think because the performance was designed to appeal directly to his members.

After USC and UCLA were admitted to the Big Ten on June 30, the Pac-12 went silent for four weeks as the Big 12 owned the national narrative.

As a result, Kliavkoff had to present a unified and aggressive position in his first public remarks in order to satisfy stakeholders who wanted top-down support.

We therefore understand the mixed reaction of the national public which, in this case, was not the target public.

Rising: ASU’s NIL involvement

Arizona State fans may recall Ray Anderson’s comments earlier this year in which the longtime athletic director said his department would “not get into an arms race with new free agency. and the new payment structure for gambling (NIL) which is now very common.”

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As collectives of names, images and likenesses sprang up from coast to coast to compensate current players — or attract rookies — it looked like the Sun Devils would be on the sidelines.

Six months later, a group of ASU donors created the Sun Angel Collective.

Designed to provide NIL opportunities for athletes, this is an important development for the Sun Devils, especially for a football program under investigation for recruiting violations.

Whether or not the NCAA imposes sanctions, an economic support structure is in place to navigate the NIL era.

Many donor collectives, in the conference and across the country, serve the purpose of providing endorsement and promotion opportunities to existing varsity athletes.

Others use their pooled resources as illicit rostering mechanisms, luring high school recruits and transferring them with bags of money.

And why not? The NCAA application process is the weakest of sauces.

(The going rate for an elite quarterback in the NIL market is around $2 million, with receivers and rushers not far behind.)

This honest black market will not go away without congressional oversight or a massive correction. At some point, the community business leaders who power the collectives will realize that a backup left guard isn’t worth $50,000.

Until then, anarchy is the law of the land.

The Sun Angel Collective is said to have secured $1 million in funding, and ASU’s alumni base is expected to produce a larger pool over time.

We don’t expect it to match the top tier of collectives, like Oregon’s Division Street (run by Phil Knight) or Texas A&M’s oil slot.

But it’s good news for ASU and for the conference, which needs as many deep-pocketed collectives as its members can muster.

We suspect there will be more news on this front as the season approaches.


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