The Pac-12 has a radical idea to give the conference an influx of cash.
According to the Oregonian, the conference gave a presentation to its member schools regarding the possibility of private equity partners for the conference. Yes, really. People and/or corporations could have the opportunity to invest in the Pac-12.
Pac-12 Conference leadership pitched university presidents and chancellors a strategic plan aimed at bailing out the struggling conference and helping it keep pace with its Power Five Conference peers.
The “Pac-12 NewCo” plan was introduced to the conference presidents and chancellors at their mid-November meeting and was subsequently discussed in a conference call in December, per sources. Private investors would own 10 percent equity in the newly formed entity in exchange for a $500 million investment.
Why would the Pac-12 be exploring this idea? It could really use some more revenue. The conference’s television network has struggled to hit projections as it doesn’t have widespread cable distribution like the SEC Network and Big Ten Network. The lack of forecasted revenue from media-rights deals has led to the schools in the conference getting significantly fewer dollars in payouts from the conference than other Power Five schools get from their conferences.
The Pac-12 has not had a good 2018. The conference missed out on the College Football Playoff for the second straight season and got just three teams into the NCAA tournament. So not only is the conference looking for cash, it’s looking for some on-field success in the two most prominent college sports.
Oh, it’s also had to suffer through an inglorious replay scandal where an untrained official had input on a targeting call during a game earlier in the season. When you couple all the bad headlines with the idea that the Pac-12 is looking for investors, it’s really easy to laugh at the proposal. But maybe it’s just crazy enough to work.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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