Pac-10/12’s Transformation a Direct Result of Larry Scott’s Leadership

Sam Obitz / August 1st, 2011 / No Comments »

I often speak about the importance of leadership and culture in transforming organizations. There may be no better recent example of this than Larry Scott’s stewardship of the Pac-10, and its expansion into the newly formed Pacific-12 conference. In just a little over two years, Scott has added two worthy teams to the conference, and more importantly, signed a contract giving the Pac-12 the most lucrative media-rights deal in collegiate sports history.

For over a decade I have told friends that I thought the best job in sports was the commissioner of the Pac-10. Partly because it was a no fail situation –they had nowhere to go but up- but also as a result of their long record of having missed opportunity after opportunity in the age of 24-hour sports and the advent of ESPN. While other conferences aggressively took advantage of the growing market for collegiate sports, the Pac-10 sat idly by watching as other conferences were cashing in.

The fact that the Pac-10 was an underexposed and underperforming conference for more than 20-years before Scott took over should not diminish his accomplishments. To his credit, he hit the ground running and immediately added important new members to his staff, and nearly pulled off the biggest coup in conference expansion history. Additionally, with his newly formed Pac-12 networks, fans will be able to access all of their favorite team’s games on whatever device they choose, provided they have a subscription to the service starting in August 2012.

Perhaps the biggest change was seen when Scott was asked about the NCAA’s expected ruling on violations in the Ohio State case and he said: “I think everyone should hold their powder, but you can be sure I’m tracking it.” This was refreshing after a few decades of wondering whether the former conference commissioner was even aware of what was going on in other conferences.

Most importantly his vision, passion and aggressiveness have transformed the entire organization. At this past week’s Pac-12 football media day you could feel the renewed passion of not just those in leadership positions, but all the individuals working at it. It no longer seemed like just a job to them, but rather a mission filled with excitement and possibilities.

Even the coaches and administrators at the event seemed to be more accommodating and enthusiastic than just a few short years ago. Quite an accomplishment when you consider Scott has added two additional days on the East coast to the coach’s media duties. This is a fine example of how people in all walks of life take to additional work when there is a clear vision and well stated purpose behind the change.

Settling for the status quo is a thing of the past now for the Pac-12 conference, and Larry Scott is a shining star in the universe of what is possible when leadership is coupled with forward thinking vision and a strong culture of innovation.


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