The Pac-12 presidents are open to hiring a commissioner who would transform the conference’s business structure and implement a model used by professional leagues, according to the job description published by the search firm assisting the process.
The description includes the following passage:
“While historically intercollegiate conference offices have been focused on sport operations and the business of the ‘collective,’ the Pac-12 is open to a more modern conference structure and approach which can be seen in several professional sports leagues.”
The specifics of that approach focus on assisting campuses with opportunities “in their unique local markets” and are spelled out in the document posted on the TurnkeyZRG website.
Turnkey was hired to lead the search following the Jan. 20 announcement that the Pac-12 would part ways with Commissioner Larry Scott this summer, one year before the expiration of his contract.
Overall, the job description is highly on-brand for the conference.
In the introduction, the document notes how “The entrepreneurial spirit of the West is alive and well in the Pac-12.”
In another section, it calls for the next commissioner to be “a discoverer,” because college sports are too fluid for a “preexisting ‘playbook.’”
The conference wants a “lifelong learner” and “thought leader,” not someone “who thinks they have all the answers.”
Not surprisingly, there’s a desire for candidates with strong “business acumen” and “a demonstrated track record of quickly accelerating revenue.”
The framing of the job description indicates that Turnkey, which assisted the ACC on its commissioner search last year, is pushing the Pac-12 presidents to cast the widest possible net.
“This is too important for Turnkey to say, ‘Here’s your guy,”’ an industry source said. “They’re a real firm. They want to give them as many different types of options as possible.”
Multiple sources believe Turnkey, which has a well-earned reputation for secrecy, is currently in the vetting stage — no interviews have been conducted or finalists identified.
Scott will remain on the job through June and is expected to help with the transition.
“They’re weeks away” from conclusion, one source said.
Two quotations at the top of the job description suggest the presidents feel an urgency to change the Pac-12’s trajectory and a willingness to pursue nontraditional paths to that end.
The first quotation is from Gandhi:
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The second is from legendary UCLA coach John Wooden:
“Be quick but don’t hurry.”
The second sentence of the executive summary builds on that theme: “This role is for an individual who not only embraces change, but thrives in it.”
There are sections detailing the conference’s commitment to inclusion, to student-athlete well-being, to academic excellence and to “all around athletic performance.”
The success of Pac-12 Olympic sports is laid out in considerable detail.
There is no mention of football, other than within general descriptions of the conference being a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
One of the most revealing passages falls under the section titled ‘Representative Position Summary (not exhaustive).’
“While historically intercollegiate conference offices have been focused on sport operations and the business of the ‘collective,’ the Pac-12 is open to a more modern conference structure and approach which can be seen in several professional sports leagues. Those leagues offer members best practices, benchmarking, market intelligence, business intelligence, sales support, content support, etc. to assist members in their unique local markets. If a similar approach can help Pac-12 member schools vis-à-vis student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and followers, the Pac-12 is open to it.”
Exactly how that might play out is unclear, but the marketplace challenges in Tucson, Corvallis and Pullman are not the same as those in Los Angeles.
There is no indication the presidents are considering a change to the equal-share revenue model, by which media rights are split equally among the 12 members.
The job description calls the Pac-12 Networks a “key asset” but leaves its future open-ended:
“Analyze and assess the key business relationships and contractual commitments not only at the Conference level, but also assist Pac-12 schools in benchmarking key agreements. The Pac-12 Network will need to be assessed and strategized to determine how best to proceed with this key asset.”
The candidate profile seemingly describes the antithesis of Scott, who has been the extremely public face of the conference during his 12 years — to the point that his presence has often overshadowed the teams, coaches and athletes.
In the Executive Summary, there is a stated desire to find a “Servant leader” who is “Strong yet humble.”
“The Pac-12 isn’t necessarily desirous of an ongoing ‘spokesperson,’’’ the document states. “Everything has its time and place. The Commissioner and communications team should discern when and how to deploy communications effectively for the collective.”