ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

ASU’s Anderson hopes Pac-12 media rights future clarifies soon

Feb 23, 2023, 1:09 PM | Updated: Feb 24, 2023, 11:55 am

Ray Anderson, Arizona state athletic director...

Arizona State Sun Devils athletic director Ray Anderson looks on before the college football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona State Sun Devils on November 23, 2019 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Pac-12’s uncertain future lingers. USC and UCLA are on their way out of the conference next summer, and the league is fighting for scraps left over after other major conferences have secured their media rights contracts.

Expansion is on the table, but that is another step in keeping the Pac-12 afloat.

Arizona State vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson is among those not hiding frustrations as the timeline media rights negotiations has extended over a course of eight months.

“We’re managing it by being patient and letting the process with our new commissioner take its course. It’s been challenging and it’s been frustrating, I don’t think anybody can deny that,” Anderson told Bickley & Marotta when he joined Arizona Sports on Thursday.

“And so we’ve had to be patient because, very frankly, we’re not in control. We certainly believe in the value of this market and certainly the value ASU as an institution brings to the Pac-12 conference.”

Anderson, though, believes a resolution is on the horizon with the Pac-12’s current contract with ESPN and Fox ending after next season. He is confident the Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff will reach a deal that keeps things relatively intact.

The ASU leader said that he could see a media rights deal close in the next two or three weeks.

But:

“Assurances is a very strong word. Guarantees, assurances, can you promise? I can’t, I can’t speculate,” Anderson said.

Anderson expressed his frustrations after Washington State president Kirk Schulz told The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner he was hoping for a mid-March deal to settle in ink. It was noted that the conference put out a statement on Feb. 13 offering unity, something Schulz said wasn’t just a panicked PR campaign. He said it was a true show that the 10 remaining schools are sticking together.

In the latest rumors about potential negotiations, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported Tuesday that Apple has emerged as a potential media partner for the Pac-12.

With ESPN, Amazon Prime Video and Fox Sports lukewarm on the league, Apple could end up being the platform for the Pac-12, according to sources.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff could present Apple as a possibility to his schools soon, according to sources. Whether the universities would be interested in a potential all-streaming deal and whether the terms would end up being good enough to prevent schools from departing to other conferences has yet to be determined.

ActionNetwork’s Brett McMurphy added the tech giant has not yet offered the Pac-12 a deal. ION is also lurking as a potential partner.

The Big 12 most recently agreed to a media rights deal with ESPN and Fox. The SEC and Big Ten are on fresh deals, and the ACC remains in one.

The Los Angeles area schools’ departures dinged the Pac-12 hopes as it is set to lose a major media market.

Beyond the television deal securing money for the conference’s schools, it could slingshot the Pac-12 into determining expansion targets and moving forward as the football and men’s basketball products, the moneymakers, have fallen behind on the field and court.

At the least, it could quell the noise and speculation about other conferences attempting to entice other Pac-12 teams to leave the league.

“Certainly, we’re all anxious to have something resolved here in the next couple, three weeks, so we can take next steps and get some of this speculation out of the air in regard to what other conferences may be thinking in terms of trying to pick off Pac-10 teams, if you will, and what we may do in terms of adding institutions,” Anderson told Bickley & Marotta. “Getting a media rights deal will clear the air for figuring out some of that other stuff.

Added Anderson: “We’ve just been forced like everyone else, unfortunately, to let this thing play out because we’re not directly in the driver’s seat. That being said, we have confidence our commissioners and our presidents and chancellors are going to get to a place where a media rights deal and a grant of rights is done. It may not be the projections originally contemplated but will be a solid enough financial situation to keep this conference together and then (we will) really work hard to move forward positively.”

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