BOULDER - Emma Coburn recorded a personal-best 3,000-meter steeplechase time last weekend that also happened to be the world's best time in the event this year. For her friends and family back in Crested Butte, it undoubtedly was a "wish-you-were-here" moment for the gifted University of Colorado junior - or at the very least, a "wish-you-could-have-seen-it" moment.
Track and field fans attending Sunday's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., did see Coburn's stellar 9:40.51 effort. But beginning with 2012-13 competition in the Pac-12 Conference, record-setting performances such as Coburn's likely won't be limited to local viewing.
Larry Scott wants remote controls the world over to tune in all sorts of Pac-12 competition, and the TV mega-deal announced Tuesday pretty much guarantees it is going to happen. In partnering with the ESPN family and FOX Sports Media Group and announcing the formation of Pac-12 Media Enterprises (read: Pac-12 network), the emerging league and its far-sighted new commissioner - Scott - now have a plan in place to beam the conference's revenue-producing endeavors (football, basketball) and pretty much all sports to anyone within eyesight of any sized screen.
Scott described the entire package and what it will mean for the dozen schools in terms of national exposure "the epitome of a win-win." It also underscored Scott's ability to pull it all together. "His word is gold," CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn said. "He has been a real pleasure to work with on every level. His vision (for the new conference) is becoming clearer and clearer every time we meet with him."
Football and hoops will put the cash in the new league's and its members' coffers, but Scott doesn't want the Olympic sports in the expanded "Conference of Champions" to go unnoticed. They are "a tremendous source of pride for the conference," he said, calling Tuesday "a real game-changer for Olympic sports."
When the new 12-year TV deal begins in 2012, the Pac-12 will have, according to the conference release, "'TV Everywhere' platform rights for the broadcast, national cable and Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network packages (the ability to distribute games on any and all available platforms, including the computer, mobile and tablets)."
The Pac-12 Network will exclusively feature approximately 200 live Olympic sports telecasts in 30 men's and women's sports annually. Plus, the Pac-12 Digital Networks will feature several hundred other live conference athletic events on an annual basis, not covered by ESPN, FOX or the Pac-12 Network.
Scott also termed Tuesday "a turning point for women's sports in general," but specifically for Pac-12 women's basketball. "You're going to see unprecedented exposure."
It can't be guaranteed that it's all going to be "must-see" TV, but it appears that almost everything done athletically in the new league will be available for viewing. Said Scott: "We're committed to utilizing platforms that would get us at full national distribution . . . we can look all of our coaches and student-athletes in the eye and say you have (the) opportunity to be seen."
Scott declined to confirm any specific revenue numbers during a conference call, but media speculation for the last couple of days has pegged the worth of the 12-year deal at about $3 billion. Broken down annually, according to several media outlets, that means about $250 million for the conference, with each school getting upwards of $21 million.
At this point, though, Scott and the Pac-12 are more interested in their "landmark" agreement with ESPN and FOX than in playing any games of TV one-upmanship with the SEC, Big Ten, etc. Since the Big Ten Network was in place, Scott said he and his aides were able to look to that as a model and that Big Ten officials were cooperative in sharing information about their network while it was in a formative stage.
Asked if his league had just landed the "richest TV deal for any conference," Scott demurred and noted the soon-to-be-former Pac-10 - it adds CU and Utah on July 1 - will move "well beyond the threshold" initially established in a revenue-sharing plan that would allow USC and UCLA an additional $2 million annually until that threshold was reached. Thus, equal revenue sharing will start with the beginning of the TV contract in 2012.
Coming at a time of "unprecedented financial challenges for our schools," the historic deal also will allow, said Scott, Pac-12 schools "to connect the dots between education and athletics . . . student-athletes will be benefitting in a very tangible way. (The TV deal) reduces the stress on universities to provide resources. I'm thrilled that the increased revenue comes at such a demanding time."
Scott mentioned the prospect of "Pac-12 media labs" in the context of aiding broadcast journalism at conference schools. Ironically, CU's Board of Regents voted last month to close the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.