Report: Pac-12 officials, including commissioner Larry Scott, take pay cuts amid coronavirus pandemic

The financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic is being felt in the Pac-12. 

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reported Monday that top staff at the conference office, as well as Pac-12 Network, will see pay cuts. Among that group is much-maligned commissioner Larry Scott, who made $5.3 million for the 2018 fiscal year.

Scott, per Wilner, will take a 20 percent salary reduction while members of his senior staff at both the conference and network office will take a 10 percent cut. The cuts will last “the remainder of the school year” and be revisited in the summer.

Scott’s $5.3 million income ranked second among conference commissioners behind Jim Delany of the Big Ten, who made $5.5 million. The 2018 fiscal year is the most recent available tax returns for the major conferences. 

Additionally, Wilner is reporting that Pac-12 Networks will “reduce its workforce by 8 percent.” The information, part of an array of cost-saving strategies, was obtained via a memo circulated among conference employees on Monday morning. 

Commissioner Larry Scott speaks during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

NCAA officials also taking pay cuts

The move from Scott and the Pac-12 comes on the heels of high-level NCAA officials doing the same. 

Last week, USA Today reported that top NCAA administrators would take pay cuts, including president Mark Emmert. Emmert and senior management will take 20 percent cuts. NCAA vice presidents will see their pay cut by 10 percent. Yahoo Sports reported that Emmert made $3.9 million in the 2018 fiscal year, $1.4 million of which came from a deferred payment written into his contract. 

Because the coronavirus caused the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (plus all other spring and remaining winter championships), the NCAA announced a significantly reduced revenue distribution for member institutions. 

The NCAA projected it would distribute $600 million among its membership, but that sum fell all the way to $225 million after March Madness was canceled. The NCAA said last month that a “variety of cost-cutting budget measures” would be on the horizon as well.

The fear of no college football lingers

The fear that there may not be a college football season also lingers in the background. As Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel wrote last week, college football is the “top financial engine of the multi-billion dollar college athletics industry.” A significant portion of that money comes from television contracts. Ticket sales make up a big chunk of the equation, too. 

The prospect of football being played on fall Saturdays seemingly coincides with the ability to have students safely return to campus. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made that very clear to Yahoo Sports:

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby delivered a clear answer when asked if games could be played in the fall without students on campus. “No,” he said. “The participants are students.”

All of this is still months down the road. In the meantime, major conferences like the Pac-12 are beginning to follow the NCAA’s lead by cutting costs wherever they can.

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