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Pac-12 commissioner Scott: listening, not luring
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is willing to listen if Oklahoma or anyone else wants to join his conference.
He said that the courtship is different from last year, when the league was looking for expansion candidates. He repeatedly said the conference was not doing anything to seek new members.
“Any suggestion whatsoever that our conference is being predatory, that’s just wrong,” Scott said. “We have not had expansion as an initiative, as an agenda for us at all. So to the extent, if there were any conversations going on, you can be sure they’re not ones we initiated.”
Scott added that he had to listen to pitches from interested schools to evaluate what might be in the best interest of the Pac-12 members.
University of Oklahoma president David Boren said Friday that multiple conferences have shown interest in the Sooners recently and he expects to decide whether to leave the Big 12 or not within the next three weeks, if not sooner.
Then on Saturday, Oklahoma State billionaire booster Boone Pickens said he doesn’t think the Big 12 will last much longer and believes the Cowboys eventually will end up in the Pac-12 Conference.
Scott refused to comment “on any particular conversations” or specific schools.
Before Texas and Oklahoma decided last summer to remain in the Big 12, there had been interest from the then-Pac-10 about them moving West. That included Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as potentially part of a 16-team league.
Colorado did leave the Big 12 to become part of the expanded Pac-10, and Utah joined from the Mountain West after Scott’s very public expansion push. Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten.
“For me, expansion was always very much a strategic issue leading up to the fact that we were in TV negotiations,” Scott said. “I felt at the time that we needed to get to 12 (members), to have a football championship game, to be of equivalent size to some of our peer conferences, both in terms of the markets that we’re in and the content that we’ve got. We achieved that from my perspective. … So we haven’t felt one iota of need since we expanded.”
Still, what happened last year provides reason to believe something could still happen with more teams heading West.
“I’m just saying, this year is very different,” Scott said. “All I know is we’ve been thrilled with 12 (members) and it’s worked out great for us, and we haven’t been planning for anything different.”
Texas A&M announced this week that it is leaving the 10-team Big 12 and applying for membership in another conference, likely the Southeastern Conference as early as next week.
Part of the reason Texas remained in the Big 12 was the opportunity for its own television network. Texas and ESPN recently launched the Longhorn Network, a $300 million, 20-year deal.
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