Coach Prime or no Coach Prime, the CU Buffs’ preference is to remain a member of the Pac-12, chancellor Phil DiStefano told The Post on Wednesday.
But the university’s commitment to the conference it joined a dozen years ago could depend, in part, on a long-awaited Pac-12 broadcast rights deal.
DiStefano said clarity on the new media partnerships is expected to be presented to league chancellors and presidents Thursday by conference commissioner George Kliavkoff.
“I’m eagerly awaiting to hear what the commissioner has to say (Thursday),” DiStefano told The Post in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “But at this point, the 10 (Pac-12) schools are staying together and awaiting a message from the commissioner.”
CU is one of four inland Pac-12 members — dubbed the “Four Corner Schools” — reportedly targeted by new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark as potential additions as that Texas-based league is seeking to expand its footprint from coast to coast.
The Big 12 reached a media deal with ESPN and FOX last fall, while the Pac-12’s television contract ends next year. Numerous media outlets reported that the Pac-12 is not expected to announce a media deal when it convenes for its annual football media day Friday in Las Vegas, which new football coach Deion Sanders will not attend because of recent surgeries.
“(CU’s) goal is to stay within the Pac-12 and have a media deal coming up shortly,” the chancellor continued. “That’s our goal. And I believe the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 are together on that.”
DiStefano told The Post that he has not had any direct negotiations with Yormark or with the Big 12.
“I think (the speculation has happened) because there’s not a deal at this point,” the CU chancellor said. “There’s a lot of talk about (Big 12) expansion. But … I don’t read social media very much so I don’t know what people are saying, but I hope that we’ll have some direction (Thursday) in our meeting.”
The Buffs left the Big 12 for the Pac-12 in 2010 and began playing football with the latter’s schools starting in 2011. CU had played in the Big 12, and its Big Eight and Big Seven predecessors, for 63 seasons prior to joining an expanded Pac-10.
But the financial returns for CU have fallen short of promises made more than a decade ago by former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who left the league in June 2021.
According to USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz, the Pac-12 in the 2022 fiscal year paid out the lowest per-school media rights distribution of any Power 5 conference, at a reported $37 million per program. The Big Ten topped the list with $58.8 million, followed by the SEC ($49.9), Big 12 ($42 million-$44.9 million) and the ACC ($37.9 million-$41.3 million).
When asked if there was a target payout number that CU would like to see from the Pac-12, DiStefano replied:
“You’d like to see it at — I think all along, we’ve talked about (and have been) looking at, what the ACC and the Big 12 (have received) and what the SEC and the Big Ten are getting, and wanting to be kind of in the middle of the pack — probably to be third, behind the SEC. That’s been the goal for such a long time.”
DiStefano added that he had yet to see a “final number on media rights (from Kliavkoff) … that’s why we’re meeting tomorrow.”
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