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October 11, 2017

Larry Scott

San Francisco, California

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Great to see everyone here. Very exciting day for us, especially given the success of our women's basketball program and the trajectory over the last few years. It's really an honor to be able to kick off the upcoming season.

Each year our women's basketball program has seemed to improve, generating more interest, getting deeper across the board. We try every year also to improve this Media Day and make it a more valuable experience for you all, but also for our coaches and student-athletes.

Last year we tested having two student-athletes from each of our programs here, got some great feedback, not just from the media who enjoyed meeting more of the players and having more opportunity to learn their stories, but interestingly from the student-athletes themselves. They really find this a very valuable, interesting experience for them to see how it all works and be able to meet with the media.

Hope you get a chance to spend some good quality time with our coaches, but also with the 24 student-athletes that we have here today.

Particularly a delight for me to sit here today and preview our upcoming women's basketball season, because promoting women's sports at the Pac-12, and certainly from my perspective, it's always been very important to me and a passion.

A lot of my career, as you know, before I came to the Pac-12 as commissioner in 2009, was involved in women's sports, leading the WTA. So seeing the exposure and growth of women's sports in our conference has been awesome.

We're coming off a year where Washington women's rowing won our 500's National Championship, and that was a great moment to celebrate. And seeing the success of our women's basketball program is personally very gratifying for me.

The last couple years have been particularly strong. In the 2015-16 season we had half the Final Four with Oregon State and Washington. And I think that was an inflection point that year where I think the rest of the country really recognized the Pac-12 as one of the strongest and deepest, but also with elite teams at the top.

Followed up last season with a record seven teams in the tournament, from our perspective, and, of course, Stanford making the Final Four.

We've had four of our programs that have been in the Final Four over the last five years. So very different from how it felt when I arrived in 2009, going in the right direction, from my perspective.

As we look at some of the teams that have been so successful, a lot of stars coming back. Think about the great program that Scott Rueck has developed at Oregon State, their terrific track record and a star player like Marie Gulich that's coming back that's here with us today. He's coming off a great run in terms of regular season championships. '16 and '17 was a historic year for individual performances, Stanford and Washington as well. We took a lot of pride in seeing Tara become the third coach in history to win a 1000th NCAA game victory. We were able to celebrate that on the Pac-12 Networks.

And, of course, Kelsey Plum at Washington with the standout season that she had, and seeing her achieve the scoring record on the Pac-12 Networks in her last regular season game at U-Dub, that was awesome.

A lot of the bedrock of the successes our coaches, of course, we've got a great group of coaches. One of the proud things as well is to see some former student-athletes that are now successful coaches in our conference. Adia Barnes, a standout at Arizona. Charli Turner Thorne, a stand-up, played for Tara at Stanford. Funny how things come full circle.

And I think the great coaching group we've got, some of the coaches that have been here for a while and have a great track record, and some of the newer coaches, that there is a lot of excitement around and that gives me a lot of optimism for our program going forward.

Lot of stars coming back. You'll have a chance to get to speak with Kristine Anigwe at Cal, certainly one of the most exciting players nationally. Sabrina Ionescu, Freshman of the Year, coming back. Oregon has got a very young, exciting team.

If you look at UCLA's team, Jordin Canada, Monique Billings that are here. Very experienced, successful team that's going to be really strong.

So, so many story lines in terms of individual stars. Some new, young talent, some seasoned veterans that we've got, great coaches, so I really like the way the season is shaping up.

We've placed a great focus as well on how the season finishes. We love our partnership with Seattle with KeyArena, Seattle Storm, Seattle Sports Commission. That event continues to grow. I've had a chance to see many of you each year up there. We're delighted the way that is developing. Last year's tournament was amazing. We had so many games, and six games decided by 10 points or less.

If I reflect back on my first year, 2009 or 2010, our Pac-10 Championship didn't feel quite the same way. So the quality of play and the competition, you just see it in addition to what you see on the stat lines. It's just really been fabulous.

You know, creating a first-class, prominent stage for the student-athletes and our teams at the end of the season has been one of the big areas of focus. Of course, the other one has been creating a media platform for the Pac-12 women's basketball to get exposure, to have the talent, the success of our programs, the quality of play be available and recognized nationally as well as to help those recruits and young stars that are interested coming out of the Pac-12 to see it and know that they're going to get exposed and their families are going to get to see them play.

So if I think about all the reasons why the Pac-12 Networks was conceived and created in the first place, there is no better example, from my perspective, than women's basketball, and what it looked like before the Pac-12 Networks to what it looks like now.

There were no more than five games during the regular season that would have been telecast nationally before the creation of the Pac-12 Networks. Maybe a handful on a local RSN.

This upcoming season, we're going to have 110 games, season games, telecast on the Pac-12 Networks, in addition to the five that ESPN are going to telecast. We're going to have 11 games from our Pac-12 Tournament that are broadcast nationally on Pac-12 Networks and ESPN.

I think it's probably obvious to many of you in here, but if the sole focus of a television company is just ratings and advertising and return on investment, you know, it's only a small handful of women's basketball games you're probably going to telecast. If your mission is to promote your sports that mean a lot to you, to give equal access, to use your media platform, to give exposure to the amazing student-athletes that you have and the programs that you have, you invest and you telecast more of it.

So that's why we created the Pac-12 Networks and being able to telecast 110 events plus our tournament games, plus all the storytelling that we're able to do, which will start today. Every student-athlete that's here will get interviewed, and the stories that are going to be put in the can to be peppered into the telecast during the year, it's very unique what we've created.

But it's very mission driven and a great source of pride to be able to telecast 110 of these regular season games and to see the role that that's played in addition to tremendous efforts by our campuses and the priority our campuses have put on women's basketball.

The combination of the work and the leadership on our campuses with the resources that we've been able to put into it at the conference level related to the television network, our marketing support, and the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament at the end of the season, I think all these things have come together in a beautiful fashion to result in the Pac-12 now being the deepest and I think most successful women's basketball conference in the country, where you know you're going to see great competition, top to bottom, throughout the season, and we're going to have elite teams at the top.

So it's an exciting moment to start the season. I want to thank all of you that are here. Looking around the room, I know you're not just here for Media Day. You follow women's basketball throughout the season. I tend to see most of you at our tournament in the end.

Really appreciate your support for women's basketball. Hope you have a great day to day, and happy to take a few minutes to answer your questions before you hear from our coaches and student-athletes.

Q. With the construction of KeyArena on the horizon, probably starting next fall, what are your thoughts on the tournament, if it's not available, and what would you do?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We're in close touch with our partners in Seattle, aware of the possibility that it will be under construction. There will be no impact on the 2018 championship that we have there. There could possibly be an impact for 2019.

So we're staying in close touch with them and starting to explore what our alternatives would be in any years that we could not compete at Key. But we do not have any specific plans in place at the moment.

Q. With the bidding cycle open in the next round of Final Fours, are you strongly encouraging anybody -- it's been a long time since it's been on the West Coast. You and I discuss this every year, but it's time to open up the bidding again. Are you looking forward to a Pac-12 bid for the Final Four?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We are. We're obviously delighted to have the Final Four men's in Phoenix. We've gotten behind Regionals recently. We announced the Men's Regional '22 or '23 that we're working with the Warriors on at their new arena, Chase Center.

So we as a conference have gotten much more on the front foot in terms of supporting these bids. We certainly see the benefit in having postseason men's and women's basketball tournaments at different stages out here. So not sure exactly where we are in the process, but it's something we're keenly interested in.

Q. I hear from a lot of fans in our area in regards to the Pac-12 Networks. The regional outlets, regional stations aren't available on most of the basic cable packages. They're only available on the upper-tier packages. The point of those regional outlets is to provide fans with access to the games. Do you have any influence on ever maybe changing that in the future so that those regional outlets are more accessible to fans?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yes. Each of our distributors handles the seven networks in a different way. So there is no one answer, depending on the part of the country that you're in. But in the case of Colorado, you're probably talking about Comcast as opposed to Dish.

Yeah. With as many events as we have, 850 events, they are split. I don't know the exact number. But we have people in the room that do that are on the national network, then the idea of the regional networks is to be hyper-local. On the national network, you'll have all the football games, most of the men's basketball games, a lot of the most prominent women's basketball games are championships and some of the most high-profile competitions.

The idea of then the regional networks are to be hyper-local and to be tailored in each of the markets. So it's Pac-12 Mountain, which would be the regional in Colorado. You're going to see more Colorado and Utah basketball and other Olympic sports events.

Where those networks are carried, on which tier, and whether they're in HD or SD is subject of negotiation with each distributor. The outright obligation any distributor has is to carry the national network on the most highly distributed tier, often called your basic, in the basic package, in HD.

What we haven't been able to get is that the regional will also be on expanded basic in HD. There are some distributors around the country that do it. Most don't. Though in most of our markets that regional network will be on a sports tier, which is probably there where you have to pay extra for.

I think the thing I encourage fans to look at as well is, I think, all of the regionals, in most cases, not 100 percent sure with Comcast, are also available authenticated through the app. So that is another option people can look at. Again, it will vary distributor by distributor.

Maybe, Pat, after this, we have a few Pac-12 Networks people here that can talk more specifically about the situation with Comcast in Colorado. I'll have them come see you and give you more details so you can inform your readers about how they can better find what they're looking for. But it's complicated distributor by distributor.

Q. I saw your statement and you've taken a firm stand on integrity in the conference and beyond for men's basketball. Did you get any indication that women's basketball will be looked at or have you made clear to the women's side as well that, hey, this is how we're going to operate?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, I had a chance to meet with our coaches earlier this morning before the day started. I broached the topic. We're very concerned about what we've read so far in terms of the allegations. If true, it's very worrisome. I'm going to have more and speak to this in more detail tomorrow.

It will be obviously a relevant topic at Men's Basketball Media Day, so I'm going to speak to it tomorrow, and I think you'll see us take some steps in this area, primarily focused on men's basketball.

But the idea of wanting to ensure integrity of the competition, protecting our student-athletes and doing what we can as the Pac-12 to advocate or change and reform to ensure those principles cuts across all sports.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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