The top of the Pac-12 power structure – the top – is undergoing changes.
By the end of next week, the three-member Pac-12 executive committee that directs the agenda for the entire council of presidents and chancellors will have a new leader and a new member.
Washington President Ana Marie Kos becomes chairman – boss of bosses – on July 1. She is moving on to Oregon President Michael Schill, whose term on the executive committee is coming to an end.
Stanford president Mark Tessier-Lavigne is next in line (depending on seniority) and will fill Schill’s vacancy on the committee.
Third place will continue to be Washington State President Kirk Schultz, who agreed to stay for another year despite leaving his position on campus. (Schultz will oversee the entire WSU system, not just the Pullman division.)
Thus, the most important group in the Pac-12 management structure will have a strong Northwest leaning with Kos and Schultz, as well as Stanford’s Tessier-Lavigne.
What should we do with the changes?
First, the background:
Later this year, Pac-12 will begin negotiations on its next media rights contracts, which are vital to the future of the conference.
We have no doubt that Commissioner George Klyavkov will offer the most pragmatic advice and the best possible options – his hand may be limited – but the Commissioner does not make the decisions.
They are left to the full board, which takes the initiative of the executive committee.
Now the Hotline views every strategic decision made by Pac-12 through the same lens: how does it affect football?
Our assessment of the revamped executive committee is no different.
Kos has shown no signs – at least publicly – of being a staunch defender of football. The degree of her support seems external rather than internal. (However, the chosen road becomes moot if it reaches the finish line.)
We should assume the same for Stanford’s Tessier-Lavigne, especially given the university he works at.
However, another member of the executive committee, Schultz, loves football, understands football, and deep down understands the benefits to the entire campus associated with success in football.
He has served in the SEC (Mississippi) and Big 12 (Kansas) and represents the Pac-12 on the CFP Board of Governors, the final expansion body.
He is one of the few Pac-12 presidents with a strategic understanding of the landscape.
Fans need to be sure that Schultz and Klyavkoff, who have worked closely together on playoff matters, will consider all strategic decisions, including the media rights deal, from a football perspective first.
When it comes to Kos, Tessier-Lavigne – and the rest of the Pac-12 board in its 2022 configuration and beyond – we recommend being cautiously optimistic.
For this conference, that’s all any fan can ask for.
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