With one of the world’s largest gambling centers in his backyard, Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott said during the recent Pac 12 Media Day his conference must not only take advantage of sports gaming but also use the advent of sports gaming outside Las Vegas to improve the revenue stream for the Pac 12 conference. The organization has fallen behind other conferences, such as the Big 12, the SEC, and the Big 10, in terms of revenue. Scott hopes the advent of gaming will help his conference get back to the basics – winning a major collegiate sports championship.
The Pac 12
Unlike some of the other conferences, which have had recent changes in their member schools, the Pac 12 membership has remained relatively stable. The same 12 schools have been members since the early 20th century: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal Berkeley, UCLA, Colorado (the newest member school in 2011), Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Stanford, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. And, the members of the Pacific 12 Conference (Pac 12) are all located along or near the Pacific Coast.
The Pac 12’s history of winning major collegiate sports championships is legendary. UCLA won 10 basketball championships in a row from 1964 to 1975. USC has won 11 national championships in football over the past 100 years. UCLA has won the NCAA baseball tournament 11 times as well. Between them, the members of the Pac 12 conference have 509 team championships in sports over the last century or so. This makes the PAC 12 the winningest conference, by far, in terms of national championships.
While the Pac 12 is a giant in terms of past national championships, the conference has been outgunned and outmanned by other conferences, especially the SEC, in the last two decades. In terms of revenue from sports, the Pac 12’s revenue is less than half what the SEC teams take home. While the Pac 12 does continue to take home championships, most notably this year with the NCAA College World Series Championship of the Oregon Ducks, it does not often appear in the spotlight. Scott stated in his press conference that while the Pac 12 is proud of its academic record, to address the discrepancies in training facilities and other issues, the conference must continue to look for other sources of revenue.
Vegas and the Pac 12
The commissioner also discussed the importance of Las Vegas to the Pac 12 community, and how important it is the conference take advantage both of what Vegas has to offer the conference in terms of hosting games there and the potential revenue that may come to the schools via Vegas and sports betting. Because Las Vegas is getting an NFL stadium, with plans to add more professional venues and teams, the conference is looking to improve the profile of the Las Vegas Bowl.
In addition, because Las Vegas is so close, and their member conference states are closer to the gambling mecca than any other major conference, Scott stated the Pac 12 must also continue to work to be sure they are prepared for the opening of casino gaming in other states across the nation and the impact that will have on sports betting in general. He stated he thinks it is important that major conferences find ways to guarantee the integrity and quality of the game by hiring data companies to track bets being made before and during games to watch for illegal activity and ensure compliance with regulations. He also stated if done correctly, member schools may be able to use the revenue from gaming to bolster facilities and add other improvements to the major venues of the conference, which benefits both the conference and the fans.
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