Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's tenure as the league's top executive will end on June 30, the league announced Wednesday night. Scott, 56, and the conference "mutually agreed" on the decision, even though his contract was set to run through June 2022.
Scott has helmed the league since 2009, overseeing its expansion to 12 schools and helping with the launch of the Pac-12 Network. But, more recently, the league has dealt with with decreased prestige in football and men's basketball as well as well-publicized financial woes.
"We appreciate Larry's pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences," Oregon president Michael Schill said in a statement. "At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to US and global markets on traditional and digital platforms. That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn't remain static and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy."
Scott was the highest-paid commissioner in college athletics at $4.8 million per year, which was higher than the combined salaries of the Big Ten and SEC commissioners.
Asked what his legacy would be, Scott told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd, "I don't know. That's for others to say."
Scott also said he would "take a break and reflect after 20 years in pro sports, 10 years in college. I'm excited about the next chapter."
"It's been a terrific journey. I'm very grateful," Scott said. "I'm really honored to have served such distinguished universities. I've been inspired by the student-athletes. I had a great team, and with our members, had a chance to do something unusual to lead a transformation. The conference is very well positioned for the next TV deal. A lot of changes are going on in college sports.
"I'm on my third contract. This one had 18 months to go. We sat down with the idea to figure it out. At the first meeting, it became clear our presidents and chancellors thought a good time for a different direction. I expressed that it was a good time in my life for a change. It was kind of clear. Let's get on with it, no reason to wait around. They just asked me to wait around for the end of the year."
Throughout his tenure, Scott was known for his lavish spending. The conference reportedly paid $6.9 million in rent annually for its downtown San Francisco offices. After the Pac-12 moved its basketball tournament to Las Vegas, The Oregonian reported a resort casino comped Scott the use of a 3,400 square-foot suite.
Scott's undoing, ultimately, may have been the Pac-12 Network. The wholly-owned venture, launched in 2012, suffered distribution issues from which it could never quite recover. The network just never was seen by enough viewers to make it viable as it could never work out an agreement for carriage on DirecTV, one of the largest cable systems in the country.
Fans all over the region complained about not being able to see their teams; as of 2015, the network was available in 90 million homes but only 15 million homes subscribed.
His time was marred by scandal as well. Scott was criticized for essentially having his conference pay for coverage in the Los Angeles Times, and when the idea was revealed, the practice quickly stopped.
A national search for Scott's replacement will "immediately commence," the league said in the statement.