Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said there were "a lot of mischaracterizations" in a four-part series published this week in The Oregonian that detailed the culture and spending habits at the Pac-12 headquarters. "We’re actually a media company," he said.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott defended the conference’s spending practices Friday, saying the Pac-12 should be viewed as a media company and should not compared to traditional major conferences.

Scott said there were “a lot of mischaracterizations” in a four-part series published this week in The Oregonian that detailed the culture and spending habits at the Pac-12 headquarters.

“I know we’re challenging to follow because we’re unique as a conference … certainly when it comes to financial results and headcount,” Scott said before the Pac-12 championship game between Washington and Utah. “We’re actually a media company, and the way that all gets reported is all together and that’s very hard to parse.”

[ GameCenter | Live updates, highlights from UW-Utah in the Pac-12 championship game » ]

The Pac-12 office and the Pac-12 Networks studios occupy more than 100,000 square feet of space in the heart of downtown San Francisco, at a cost of $6.9 million in rent last year, The Oregonian reported. The SEC’s rent is $318,000 per year for its headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.

The SEC’s distribution to each member school during the last reported tax year: $41 million.

The Pac-12’s distribution to each member school during the last reported tax year: $31 million.

The SEC office spent $788,000 on travel expenses in the last reported fiscal year, according to the report.

The Pac-12 spent $3.1 million in the same reporting period.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey’s salary: $1.9 million.

Scott’s salary: $4.8 million, more than any conference commissioner and more than any Pac-12 football coach.

Scott said those are not a fair comparisons because of the Pac-12 and the Pac-12 Networks has some three times more employees than the SEC, he said.

“I know it’s very hard for someone to understand what the rent costs and what the headcounts are for a media company, for ESPN, the SEC Network, for FOX and the Big Ten Network,” he said. “But trying to look at the amount of square footage that we’ve got and the headcount and the rental expense compared to another conference is just not an apples-to-apples comparison. Because we’ve got 131 people and all kinds of studio space. It’s hard to even respond to if you don’t understand that those are two fundamentally different things.”

Scott added: “What I can say with absolute confidence is not only are we comparable with other conferences in terms of
conference operations, but we’re very, very efficient. What we do for the amount of expense to run the TV network compared to peers is admirable.”