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Report: Pac-12 Pays Executive Bonuses Before Massive Layoffs

Performance bonuses just before announcing massive employee layoffs and furloughs? YIKES!

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 11 Pac-12 Tournament - Utah v Oregon State Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This morning Jon Wilner, of the Mercury News reported that the Pac-12 conference paid bonuses to executives and management staff one month before it announced massive furloughs and layoffs.

It’s been a rough year for almost everyone in this country and especially those on the West Coast. A pandemic, wild fires, lost jobs, lost healthcare benefits etc etc etc. During these unprecedented times, college football has done an especially poor job at taking charge and making wise decisions. The Pac-12 has been mismanaged for years since Larry Scott became the commissioner in 2009. It’s been long reported by John Canzano and others that Larry Scott and other Pac-12 executives receive huge salaries compared to other conference commissioners in college athletics and how they have been essentially reckless and irresponsible with Pac-12 funds.

It’s a tough time for the Pac-12 and without March Madness in 2020 and currently no plans for fall football; layoffs were expected. In August, the Pac-12 laid off or furloughed 94 of its 196 employees. That number included the Pac-12’s entire digital team; those that work with the website, app and social media.

At the time of those layoffs/furloughs a former Pac-12 employee told Canzano: Speaking about the Pac-12’s massively overpaid leadership in Larry Scott, Mark Shuken & Larry Myers “[that trio] will keep their big salaries while they kick working-class employees out into a pandemic job market”.

Today we find not only did they kick these working-class employees out into a pandemic job market; they expedited performance bonus payouts for executives and management (usually paid in October or September) and instead paid them in July. Larry Scott and other top executives love to list a somewhat palatable base salary; but then ‘double-dip’ by paying out exorbitant performance bonuses. I’m all for performance bonuses, but what has Larry Scott and the Pac-12 done in the past decade that has warranted a bonus based on performance?

In July (when these bonuses were paid), Scott announced a “compensation reduction” of 12 percent. 12 percent of 5.3 million dollars is $636,000; but that means Scott is still making roughly 4.7 million dollars this year, while half of his staff is jobless and much of the remaining staff who live in San Francisco took on a 9 percent salary reduction themselves.

As Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune questioned in July when the Pac-12 layoffs were announced:

“Would Scott sacrifice in a major way for the benefit of those who work for him, while he still would make millions, but not as many millions? Fat chance. Canzano reported that the commissioner hasn’t even made progress in paying back a $1.9 million loan he received from the Pac-12 when he was hired in 2009, money he used to buy a sweet home in a swanky Bay Area neighborhood”.

His huge salary, his unpaid loan and his fancy accommodations in downtown San Francisco, might be worth it, if it weren’t for the fact that Scott has overseen the slide that has caused the Pac-12 to become the laughingstock of the Power 5 conferences.

Jon Wilner in his article this morning estimated that if the Pac-12 decided to forego 2020 salary bonuses they could have saved roughly 40 jobs for Pac-12 employees. Roughly half of those Pac-12 employees who are currently jobless wouldn’t have been laid off or furloughed; but these bonuses took priority?

Fans of the Pac-12 are extremely frustrated with Larry Scott and the leadership around him. How much longer will Scott be in charge of the Pac-12? Why are the university presidents enabling this level of mismanagement? All we know right now is that ninety-four Pac-12 employees have been jobless since July, millions who want access to the Pac-12 network can’t have it and right now the Pac-12 is the only Power 5 conference that doesn’t have any concrete plans to start playing football.