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Pac-12, ASU now on equal terms with other power conferences

We all knew the Pac-12 would be getting a nice new television deal. We never could have imagined that they would have got a deal that trumped that of the SEC and Big 10.

Yes, the new Commissioner Larry Scott is now every Pac-12 athletic directors best friend because the conference is now out of the old deal that was worth $60 million a year and now have a 12-year $3 billion dollar deal that will net the conference a whopping $250 million a year.

Scott negotiated a deal that quadruples what the previous deal was and that money is going to come in handy to each and every team in the conference.

The reality is that some of the money, roughly $100 million will go towards starting up the Pac-10 network. Nonetheless, when you divvy up $250 million 13 ways – the conference gets a share and when you take out the money being used for the new network – each school will be bringing home roughly $16 million, which is a mind boggling $11.5 million more than what they had been netting each year. Eventually after the network fees and other expenses are paid each team is expected to net $19 million.

For athletic directors they will now have the luxury of putting together a need list of things to do with that money. Arizona State is one of many schools in the nation operating at a deficit, so first thing is to wipe that out, which is estimated at slightly more than $1 million.

After wiping that out, ASU Director of Athletics Lisa Love can work on facility upgrades – which will most likely be the first priority. The tennis courts, track and field complex, baseball stadium and swimming pools are all in desperate need of upgrades. The press box at Packard Stadium hasn’t changed since Barry Bonds was swinging a bat for ASU. And ESPNU and the Pac-12 Digital Network plan on broadcasting a lot of softball games, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea for ASU to have a press box — something they currently don’t have. After that, money needs to go into Sun Devil Stadium and Wells Fargo Arena. So facility upgrades will be high on the list when it comes to spending the extra money.

Let’s also not forget that the cost of doing business is not going down. ASU has 21 sports and 19 of them lose money. The cost to travel continues to rise. And with the bag fee’s that most airlines now charge just imagine how much ASU must pay to send its baseball team on a road trip. A pole vault costs $200 to ship to every track and field event. The swim team takes over 30 athletes to Seattle for the Pac-10 Championships. Plus fundraising and advertising is down for all sports so an added infusion of cash will also help the university catch up to its projections.

Arizona State has had to cut its athletic staff in recent years, letting go secretaries and administrative assistants. Also, like other state universities Arizona and Northern Arizona forcing employees to take furloughs. There has been a freeze on salaries inside the ASU athletic department for the last five years. But coaching salaries continue to climb and you must assume that the next football coach is going to cost quite a bit more than the $1.5 million Dennis Erickson is currently making. Same for the next men’s basketball coach as Herb Sendek makes $1.2 million.

Arizona State will reap the benefits of this new television contract just as every other school in the conference will. But it won’t have Athletic Directors making it rain and writing blank checks. The Pac-10 was undervalued in its television deal for years and that hampered the universities in the conference. Now they are on equal terms with the other power conferences and even a little ahead. And while the money is first and foremost on everyone’s minds, let’s not forget the importance of the exposure that this new television contract will bring.

In many ways that exposure is priceless.