The Pac-12 is seeking a $750 million equity investment into its conference in a first-of-its-kind hunt for cash, according to a report Thursday from Sports Business Journal.
Faced with the reality that its big bet on itself — to fund and launch its own network, rather than sell it to Fox or ESPN — has come up snake eyes, the league is looking for outside avenues to make up the gap between itself and the Big Ten and Pac-12, so it is now selling equity stakes in itself.
When this idea was originally floated late last year, the word was the Pac-12 would seek a $500 million investment, but SBJ got its hands on bid books that found the actual asking price was $250 million higher than that.
If and when the Pac-12 received its $750 million, the conference would then send $700 million to its 12 member schools — $58.3 million — while keeping $50 million to fund a new entity that would manage the Pac-12 Networks as well as any and all media rights endeavors. (For the record, the Pac-12 distributed $31 million to its members, roughly $10 million behind the SEC and $20 million behind the Big Ten.)
The Oregonian‘s original report from December stated a $500 million investment would be worth 10 percent of the conference, so either the Pac-12 decided it’s actually worth $7.5 billion instead of the original $5 billion or the league has decided to solicit a 15 percent stake rather than the original 10.
So what, exactly, is the Pac-12 offering in exchange for all that cash? A partner.
According to SBJ, the Pac-12 is asking for a 25-year commitment from a “strategic partner that could help with monetization of its media rights and distribution of the Pac-12 Networks.”
It remains to be seen just who would be interested in such an investment, but if anyone was interested, Larry Scott would surely be all ears. As SB Nation pointed out back in December, the funniest option would be if Stanford and its $26.5 billion endowment bought a stake in its own conference just so the Trees could boss Cal, USC and UCLA around.
Nothing says “amateur athletics” quite like a $750 million investment in exchange for a controlling stake in a media rights fund, does it?