Larry Scott’s latest huge mistake

Maybe he sees the axe coming and wanted to take care of his people before that happened. Whatever the reason, this is very hard to defend.

Unbelievable. Show him the door.


It seems like he saw the shortfall coming and lined his pockets with as much cash as possible then when the accounting came, money was tight and they fired employees. I want so bad to hate on him, and this is disgusting what he did…


Welcome to America. I find it interesting the people who are all for big business/free market who are bagging on Scott. He did what every other CEO has done this year, and yet we don’t have masses moving away from their ideology that says what Scott did was the right thing to do. The selective anger is very interesting.


Article from the Oregonian on the same.

Sadly this is indeed what many companies in our nation do.

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I read a tweet from an AZ sportswriter that said Larry knows he’s out next year anyway so he’s cashing in while he can

I take your point but this is different. Scott’s PAC-12 members–the institutions who hired him and whom he serves–are all non-profits. At the U, the AD and the head football and basketball coaches took a pay cut. People were furloughed or laid off outright. I’m sure other PAC-12 members have done the same things.

And their conference’s employees are getting bonuses? It makes me sick.


Jon Wilner has an update in today’s e-mail. There’s more nuance than I thought, but still some fingers need to be pointed:

The Hotline reported Monday that the Pac-12 paid performance bonuses in July for the prior fiscal year despite the all-too-real possibility that a disrupted football season would prompt significant staff downsizing.

And sure enough, half of the 190 employees in San Francisco were furloughed or laid off one month later.

To be clear: We reported the news, in as fair-and-balanced fashion as possible.

The Hotline offered no opinion on the matter … until now.

Yes, we have a few thoughts on BonusGate, starting with this: There are layers, and the layers are worth dissecting.

Layer One: The Benefits

The performance bonuses are typically paid to the conference executives in July and to the Pac-12 Networks staff in September.

The former collected their checks as normal this summer, while the latter had their payments accelerated by two months.

Reaction was somewhat mixed, based on the half-dozen interviews conducted during our reporting process.

The employee who acknowledged getting a bonus in the $10,000 range expressed skepticism about the larger motivation, saying he believed everything was orchestrated to avoid awful optics that would come with bonuses being paid after layoffs and furloughs.

But another employee was willing to look past the optics and focus on the practical benefits – that many (perhaps dozens) of employees received thousands of dollars in bonus payments prior to the downsizing.

We don’t know how many of those laid off or furloughed received bonuses, but it’s believed to be a substantial amount. The money has helped them.

And therein lies a component worth acknowledging: The Pac-12 did the right thing for networks staffers below the executive level.

Layer Two: The Cost

If only the Pac-12 had stopped there, it would have been a PR victory.

If only commissioner Larry Scott had arranged for accelerated bonuses for the networks staff and not approved huge bonus payments for himself and his executive staff.

The Hotline has written about Scott’s compensation many times over the years, and we’ve never criticized him. You get what you can get, right? I wouldn’t turn down $5 million per year, either.

(We’ve also been complimentary of his performance during the pandemic.)

But in this case, he missed badly. There is no way to frame it otherwise.

And the current storm, while separate from the momentous process of returning Pac-12 football to the field this fall, feels like it won’t quickly subside.

This is going to stick. It’s going to stick at HQ when everyone returns to the office, and it’s going to stick on the campuses.

Here’s why:

When Scott announced the initial round of salary reductions for the senior staff in April – and then a second round in July (for the full 2020-21 academic year) – he explained the reductions were set to track moves on the campuses: The pay cuts taken by athletic directors and presidents/chancellors.

"We were asked by our schools to look at what they were doing and adopt a similar policy,’’ Scott told the Hotline in July. “The CFOs came up with the methodology.”

Which leaves two options with regard to the performance bonuses:

  1. The presidents and athletic directors also took their performance bonuses for FY20 (a question that should be asked in light of these events), or

  2. Scott and his senior staff – remember, they are supposed to work for the schools – took substantial bonuses during a pandemic when the CEOs and ADs took a hard pass.

How’s that going to play on the campuses?

Layer Three: The Analysis

Let’s be clear on this: #BonusGate is merely a symptom.

The larger issue here – the larger issue for so many of the missteps in San Francisco over the years – is the lack of oversight from the folks in charge.

The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors hired Scott, then handed him the authority and the contract and the budget to run the conference office as he saw fit.

(In particular: Arizona State’s Michael Crow, who led the hiring process, negotiated the contract, and has supported Scott through all these years.)

The Scott saw fit was to run the conference like a professional league. Makes sense: That was his background (in the WTA).

The downtown San Francisco office, the executive team hired from the professional world, the centralized authority, the reporting structure with Scott as commissioner and the presidents as the team owners – it’s all very much like a pro league.

And his bosses were fine with that.

Direct as much wrath at Scott as you want – and in the case of the executive bonuses, it’s warranted, in our opinion.

But don’t forget that responsibility ultimately falls on the presidents and chancellors who, in the early years of Scott’s tenure, framed the entire governance structure of the conference. (Two of them, Crow and UCLA’s Gene Block, are sill in place.)

If you want to point fingers, point them at the people in charge. – Jon Wilner.


$4MM in bonuses, expensive offices, not taking a pay cut with layoffs?!?! When will the CEO group do something? Do we need to start pestering the President Watkins to push for a revamp of the PAC12 offices? Is there a mechanism where the conference can get this money back?

Larry’s time has come and gone for the conference. He’s done too little and given nothing in return. In other words the RoI is worth less than kitty byproducts.

I’m all for free enterprise, and generally don’t have a problem with business. I’m, really for receiving value for giving value. Hence my disdain and dislike for Larry, and a HUGE portion of corporate America. Both look, seemingly, at the short term (qtr by qtr, vs year by year or even longer for some investments).

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I agree with that sentiment. Kinda really going off topic here, and if too far off, then go ahead and delete, but I’m starting to fall in love with some sort of wage multiplier. For example, you can only make 100 times more than your lowest paid employee. If your lowest paid employee makes $30,000 then that means the highest compensated person in the business can’t take home more than $3,000,000. This doesn’t limit how much you can make, but it does make sure that you are taking care of every employee.

Is any person worth 100 times more than their replacement? I’m not so sure about that.

Hell, make it 1,000 times. If your lowest employee recieves $30,000 in compensation then the highest compensated person can not recieve more than $30,000,000 in compensation (salary, stock, cars, etc).

You want to make $40,000,000? Great, pay your lowest people $40,000. And the more I think about it, 1,000 is too high. No one person is worth 1,000 times more than the lowest person. There will be someone else who can do it.


I’m less upset with him than I am with the P12 Administrators/CEOs. They are the ones who are sitting on their hands and doing nothing. I’v been a CEO a couple of times; if I find incompetency in my people and I do nothing about it, then I am ultimately accountable. Larry couldn’t do what he’s doing without P12 CEOs’ blessing or at least ignorance.


You are right, of course. I don’t understand how highly-educated, capable executives like those university presidents can knuckle under to someone like Scott. Maybe he dazzled them in some way. Sadly, like Wilner says, they became like NFL franchise owners, with Scott as the commissioner.

They certainly are highly educated – capable executives? I don’t know. I know a lot of very intelligent, highly educated people, but many are not good in Senior Management. Not saying those P12 CEOs are not capable, but thus far, results don’t reflect such, at least in the areas of D1 sports management.

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I believe what you are describing is the Peter Principle, promoted to the level of your incompetence.

As I think about it more, I think you are more correct than I am. The blame does sit with the CEO group, more than Larry Scott (although he is not blameless by any stretch). After reading both the Oregonian article and Wilner’s article, the CEO group looks too hands off in regards to the conference.

Larry could have looked like a hero by taking a bigger pay cut, and by turning his and perhaps the execs bonuses into severance packages for the conference staff that was laid off/furloughed/whatever.

Anyway, I suspect you’re more correct than I.


The executives almost always take care of themselves, usually at the expense of the underlings. I saw that many times in the company I used to work for. Many stories.


Let’s be honest here. Before COVID, not too many people were singing Larry’s praises. If you were him, and you knew the axe was going to fall, what’s the point of good “optics”? You’ve already lost that battle with the location of the offices, the failures of the P12 network, no playoff teams, poor showing in the NCAA tournament, etc.

If you know you are gone in less than a year, what do you expect him to do? He can’t win whether he takes the money or not (and that is his fault). So, why not grab an extra couple million on the way to the bread line?

Ha. Maybe the University President’s wanted Larry Scott to Ted Lasso the P12. You wreck football enough that no one cares anymore and you can then become the academic powerhouses you knew you were all along. lol.

If they wanted to be run like NFL franchises they did a poor way of showing it. The schedules they would put out every year always hurt the best teams in the conference. I think USC and UW both had years when they had no bye weeks. USC’s OOC was nuts. Utah and Oregon both had years where they had two back to back road trips, which is a guaranteed 1-1 record. Their officiating hurt their biggest teams. Even their Friday games were nuts. Didn’t USC play a road game then a road Friday game one year? So USC had two days to prepare for their next opponent?

With all of the negative stuff that had manifested itself about the PAC 12 and it’s epic fails, Larry was one foot out the door when he got the Trustees to approve the bonuses.

Kind of reminds me of a little Transit District #UTA.

It’s going to take a ton of work to clean up the financial mess at the PAC 12 Offices.

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