Larry Scott became the commissioner in 2009. It was when the PAC-12 (then the PAC-10) was riding high. UCLA was coming off back-to-back-to-back trips to the Final Four, and Pete Carroll’s USC team was finishing up its historic run.
Fast-forward to 2021, and the conference has fallen on hard times. A PAC-12 school has only made the College Football Playoffs once (Oregon in 2015), and only one team has made the Final Four (Oregon 2017) before UCLA this year.
In addition to this, the PAC-12 has lost its long-held reputation of being the most well-rounded athletic conference in all of college sports. Scott announced that he is stepping down in June of 2021. Who would be the best replacement? Here is a look at who should be the next PAC-12 commissioner.
There are a few candidates whose names have been in the mix, but they aren’t a perfect fit for one reason or another. Dan Radakovich from Clemson, Gene Smith from Ohio State, and Greg Byrne from Alabama are all candidates but have less of a recent connection to the conference than others.
Brett Magnus, Executive Vice President of ESPN, and Oliver Luck are big names with impressive resumes, but they are more flash than substance when it comes to being the commissioner of a college conference. Here are the three best candidates right now, in no particular order.
Ray Anderson – Arizona State University’s Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics
Anderson had done a good job operating in Larry Scott’s PAC-12 since 2014. He understands the conference and what makes it tick. He also has experience running large college committees. He is involved in the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame, the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, and the newly-formed NCAA Football Competition Committee. Before his Arizona State experience, he worked for the NFL, so he knows how to bring in the TV money as well.
Gloria Nevarez – Commissioner of the West Coast Conference (WCC)
Nevarez took the WCC job in 2018 and today is one of just 10 female conference commissioners in Division I. With the help of her conference’s flagship school, Gonzaga, she has turned the WCC from an unknown afterthought to a real player in college sports, especially basketball. She actually worked for the PAC-12 before taking the WCC job, so she knows the conference incredibly well.
Bernard Muir – Stanford Athletic Director
In 2012, Muir became the AD at Stanford, and the school has had an incredible, well-balanced athletic program ever since. At Stanford, he has shown a real knack for balancing academics and athletics, and the school’s programs have taken home over 50 titles in different sports since Muir took over. He might be the best candidate to take the whole conference, not just basketball and football, into the 21st century.
These three candidates represent the best options for replacing Larry Scott at PAC-12 commissioner. While it still may be someone from the first section or someone else entirely, what we can all agree on is the fact that as long as it is no longer Scott, the conference should be better off.