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Pac-12 Inks 4-Month Oakley Partnership in Its Dying Throes

The Pac-12 won’t exist much longer in its current form, but the conference is still signing commercial deals.

On Tuesday afternoon, about an hour after Dartmouth men’s basketball players voted to unionize, the Pac-12 announced a new partnership with Oakley. The deal will run through the end of June, when the conference’s fiscal year ends and 10 of the 12 members leave for other leagues.

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In reality, the main Oakley deliverables all come in the next two weeks. Oakley will advertise at the Pac-12’s two postseason basketball tournaments in Las Vegas—the women’s event begins Wednesday; the men on March 13—and give free product to athletes as part of their gifting packages.

A Pac-12 representative declined to comment on the size of the deal, and Oakley reps didn’t respond to requests for comment, but a deal of any sort at this stage in the conference’s lifecycle is a financial win. Oakley is one of three new sponsors to join the league this year, joining Acura and Columbia Sportswear.

The Pac-12’s commercial outlook will shift dramatically in June when Oregon State and Washington State will be the only two members left. The conference has been locked in a legal battle over the other schools’ departures and is still finalizing a settlement over how to distribute the league’s current/future revenue. Its protracted media negotiations—which played a role in schools including Oregon, Arizona and Washington deciding to leave—are still ongoing, albeit in a very different form.

The league is also in the middle of a leadership change. Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who was hired in 2021, was ousted earlier this year and deputy commissioner Teresa Gould was promoted to replace him. In her first major press conference since assuming the role, Gould affirmed her goal to keep the league and its two schools in the conversation around the college sports elite.

“The most important and urgent piece of my role is to partner with the leadership on both campuses to forge that future path for their two campuses and their athletic programs,” she said. She added that the league will be keeping the Pac-12 name and IP moving forward.

Negotiations on the Oakley deal led primarily by Pac-12 Networks executive vice president of sales, partnerships and distribution Steve Tseng.

The Pac-12’s full list of sponsors includes Dr Pepper, FuboTV, On Location, Gatorade, Nike, Nextiva, Old Trapper, Pacific Seafood, Paycor, Rawlings, Sprouts, TicketSmarter and Twisted Tea.

Oakley is a unit of European glasses giant EssilorLuxottica.

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