Business of Sports – Previewing the Pac-12 board meeting: Agenda items include football strategy, media rights, NCAA issues and sale of data

Arizona Sports News online

A bevy of momentous issues will be discussed when Pac-12 presidents and chancellors gather Monday in San Francisco for the annual May board meeting, which includes the athletic directors for a portion of the session.

There’s no guarantee of conclusions drawn, votes taken and official pronouncements. Many challenges facing the conference are ongoing; some are beyond its control; only a few could approach resolution.

Key agenda items are expected to include (but won’t be limited to):

— Media rights

Commissioner George Kliavkoff will update the board on the media rights landscape, but the situation is highly fluid.

The Pac-12 won’t begin formal negotiations with ESPN, Fox and possibly other networks until later this year for the contract cycle that begins in the summer of 2024.

But nothing in the contracts prevents Kliavkoff from plotting strategy, surveying the marketplace and holding informal discussions with various network officials.

He has one eye on the Big Ten’s media negotiations, which are currently underway. The outcome could impact which media entities are most interested in partnering with the Pac-12.

— Football strategy

With College Football Playoff (CFP) expansion extremely unlikely prior to the 2026 season, the Pac-12 must determine which model maximizes its chances of participating in the four-team event.

Should it play eight conference games or nine?

Should it keep or eliminate the divisions?

Without divisions, how would the schedule rotation work?

Finally, how would the Pac-12 Football Championship Game (FCG) participants be determined, by conference record or CFP ranking?

The move to eight conference games is extremely unlikely. Unless the Big Ten does the same — and there’s no indication that move is coming — Pac-12 teams would lack quality opponents for the extra non-conference slot.

But there is support for eliminating divisions, changing the schedule rotation and exploring options for the FCG matchup.

Our suspicion is the conference will delay any final decisions, in part because the NCAA’s Division I Council must issue a procedural ruling before the division format can be jettisoned.

The ruling is expected next week.

— Sale of data

A relatively new topic but one that carries immense revenue potential.

In March, the conference announced a partnership with Tempus Ex Machina designed to improve the aggregation of statistical data for the campuses.

The deal was seen as the first step along a fraught path toward the eventual sale of Pac-12 data to gaming or technology companies.

The presidents and chancellors must approve the move. Some undoubtedly will have moral and ethical questions, but the market for data used in real-time wagering is sizzling. It’s one of the few untapped revenue streams available, and the Pac-12 is desperate for revenue.

— NCAA issues

The Pac-12 board will discuss the latest moves to wrangle control of the name, image and likeness (NIL) marketplace, including Kliavkoff’s meeting with U.S. Senators about the potential for congressional oversight.

But the list of agenda items won’t end with NIL.

The NCAA Transformation Committee is reimagining the structure of college sports. When the deregulation process ends later this year, the Power Five leagues are expected to have greater autonomy.

On that and all other matters, the Pac-12 intends to be proactive.

“I don’t think any of us (the presidents) see the Pac-12 as a passive entity,” Oregon president and board chair Michael Schill told the Hotline.

“We have a brand. We care about students. We care about academic integrity. We’re not win-at-all-costs. We care about Olympic sports. We care about women’s sports. We care about racial justice.

“Most people would agree the Pac-12 embodies all that in ways that are greater than a lot of other conferences. And I think people would say the same about the Big Ten.

“We want to make sure that wherever we end up, wherever the Power Five goes, that our values lead the process, and we want George to be a player in shaping the future of intercollegiate athletics.”

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