ASU president talks Pac-12 media rights, conference realignment, Coyotes vote

ASU president talks Pac-12 media rights, conference realignment, Coyotes vote
ASU president talks Pac-12 media rights, conference realignment, Coyotes vote

ASU President Michael Crow said Pac-12 media rights negotiations are in the final stages and the school is committed to play in the Pac-12 Conference in a meeting Tuesday with The State Press.

The university does not rule on public referendums such as Propositions 301, 302 and 303 that would allow developers to begin work on an entertainment district that would house an Arizona Coyotes arena, sportsbook, hotel and other amenities and attractions.

There have been no discussions or arrangements to partner with gambling companies in the Tempe Entertainment District or anywhere else on campus. He said renovations are needed at ASU’s basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling arena, the Desert Financial Arena, but the situation is not as dire as some have said.

READ MORE: The Tempe special election in May will determine the fate of three policies regarding the Coyotes’ arena

Pac-12 media rights negotiations

For the past nine months, the Pac-12 has been engaged in negotiations for a new media rights agreement for Pac-12 sports. ASU makes a significant amount of money from its sports by being part of a conference that sells packaged media rights to media companies like ESPN and FOX.

The money is mostly distributed evenly among conference schools. Last summer, USC and UCLA agreed to leave the Pac-12 for the Big 10, which was a financial blow to the Pac-12 because the schools were two of the more lucrative in the conference.

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“We’re close to knowing where we’re going to be, and I think we’re close to an agreement,” Crow said. “I think the media rights for the Pac-12 got more complicated with the departure of USC and UCLA. The media rights also got more complicated, as things always do because markets go that way. They’re up and down, up and down. But we have great sports teams and the remaining teams, we’re going to get a good offer. We’re in the final stages of that process.”

Discussions of ASU moving to the Big 12

CBS Sports reported last week that the Big 12 “renewed contact” with ASU, Arizona, Colorado and Utah and that the four schools’ interest in traveling to the Big 12 has “picked up in recent weeks.”

“There have been no discussions with the Big 12 Conference about moving,” Crow said. “I mean, there’s been discussions between everybody everywhere about everything related to where our conference is going and where things are going to end up and what’s going on. We’re committed to the Pac-12.”

ASU’s involvement in and conversations about the Tempe Entertainment District

In May, voters in the city of Tempe will vote on Propositions 301, 302 and 303 regarding a 46-acre development project that would include, among other things, a new stadium for the Arizona Coyotes, a sports book and housing.

“We worked with the Coyotes on the use of Mullett Arena. They wanted us to get involved in the pursuit of this larger project. It’s not in our wheelhouse,” Crow said.

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READ MORE: The Mullett Arena era begins as the Coyotes eye new development in Tempe

“As far as I know, we’re not on any of the committees and in any of the structures,” Crow said. “We don’t take a position on public referendums, so we’re not part of that and we haven’t made any commitments.”

Potential Sportsbook, District Sports Betting Partnership, Elsewhere

There are currently no arrangements or discussions with gambling companies or to form a partnership with one in the Tempe Entertainment District or elsewhere on campus. But the university takes advertising revenue from the Gila River Casino for the stadium and in the Desert Financial Arena.

There was a proposal to build a place linked to “gambling activities” in the Novus Innovation Corridor. ASU rejected the proposal.

“We have no arrangements or discussions with any gambling company,” Crow said.

Renovation of the Desert Financial Arena

In February 2022, ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson told Arizona Sports’ Bickley and Marotta that Desert Financial Arena is in “bad need” of improvements, and he “anticipates that ASU will pivot to that very quickly.”

“I don’t know what he meant by ‘cruel,'” Crow said. “You’ve been there. It is fully functional. It’s actually a nice facility and just needs a few updates.”

One of the most significant updates is to DFA’s air handling system, which Crow said would cost about $25 million. He also said seating may need updating with the possible addition of handrails and general improvements to the changing rooms.

“There’s been no serious injuries just serious from that,” Crow said. “…That facility is fully functional. It doesn’t determine whether we win basketball games at all.”

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Speaking of the uniqueness of the university, Crow said there are so many students participating in “so many abilities that are happening” that the school is “like a freak of nature. Maybe you go to the unicorn school.”

“So, Alexa, in venture capital, what is a unicorn?” Crow asked his Amazon Alexa in the corner of the room.

“We are not a unicorn in the private sector,” he said. “We’re so unusual. We’re the seven-footer who can dribble and shoot, right? So that’s the unicorn. That’s ASU. We’re the seven-footer who can dribble and shoot in a highly functional arena.”

Edited by Walker Smith and Reagan Priest

Reach the reporters at [email protected] or [email protected] and stay tuned @piperjhansen and @_alexwakefield on Twitter.

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Piper HansenDigital Editor-in-Chief

Piper Hansen is digital editor-in-chief at The State Press, and oversees all digital content. She joined SP in spring 2020, and has covered student government, housing and COVID-19. She has previously written about state politics for The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capitol Times and covers social justice for Cronkite News.

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