The Pacific Athletic Conference will always be the Conference of Champions

A terrible decade cannot erase the impact and pedigree which is the Pacific Athletic Conference even as it changes forever.
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As the PAC-12 Conference is beginning to shut the doors of any relevance, we start to look at the final days of the conference. According to Sportico, the conference brought in a record of $603.8 million dollars in its last fiscal year between July 2022 and June 2023. This was up from $580 million the previous year, but the payouts to the schools was less in 2022-2023 than in 2021-2022. Why?

Money started to be diverted to pay legal counsel to fight litigation in regards to “unfair labor practice” complaints filed against the conference, USC, and the NCAA. Between the case of Hubbard vs. NCAA and the idiotic moves regarding lack of television deals and much more by former commissioner George Kliavkoff, who somehow still got paid nearly $4 million dollars in the fiscal year of 2023, it hurt each school in the conference. There are many straws that broke the camel’s back so to speak in regards to schools leaving, but these are near the top in reasons why. Huge amounts of money were put into the overall failure of the PAC-12 Network as well. Washington State and Oregon State gained $65-plus million dollar in a settlement with the 10 departing schools, only having to pay the “conference” $1.5 million.

Now that the glazing of eyes part of the story is over, here is what the conference will be known for. With the NCAA as the overall governing body, every conference faces some sort of financial corruption. Just ask Michigan and the Big Ten these past few years. Kliavkoff may have finished the conference off, but his predecessors were not much better. The PAC-12 really was a failure when they added the additions of Colorado and Utah. It was a desperate move to be considered a top conference and was made in the hopes of bringing in new football resources which came in too late. Colorado’s football program was a laughing stalk of the conference when many believed Boise State would’ve been a better pick because of how great their football program was at the time of these decisions.

It was not just one thing that destroyed this once great conference. It was a multitude of issues that caused it. Numbers on ESPN for PAC-12 football were never high enough since their primetime games started around 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The arrival of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers punched them in the gut. Just in California, USC and UCLA football dominated ratings before the NFL arrived, however, in today’s streaming wars, no one really wants to sit down and watch a three hour football game, especially if it isn’t the National Football League. The departure of Pete Carroll didn’t help either. Teams may have moved to different conferences, but I believe we will soon see problems from other conferences trying to revenue. All the money now is in streaming and cable and satellite are dying a slow death. Us writers definitely see it even in regards to writing opportunities, but the Pacific Athletic Conference has been the beacon of greatness for decades.

The conference will end as we know it after 109 years of existence. 560 NCAA championships in its history. It was known for decades, before turning into the PAC-12, as the second-best academic conference only behind the Ivy League. I believe when the clock strikes midnight on August 2, 2024, it may only be known as the PAC-2, but the Conference of Champions and all the famous stars from these schools in sports and other fields will not be held back by a bad decade after almost a century of excellence.