Ducks' late nights a blessing and curse

EUGENE — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he was "sympathetic" to the plight of Oregon fans because the Ducks have played so many night games this season, but he said there was little that could be done because of television contracts.

All three of Oregon's Pac-12 games have kicked off at 7:30 p.m., making it four late kickoffs in the first six games for the Ducks.

"They've been on a run of a few (appearances)," Scott acknowledged in a gathering with the media at halftime of Oregon's game Saturday night at Autzen Stadium against the Huskies.

"It's been unusual that they've played so many."

Scott said he has discussed the issue with UO athletic director Rob Mullens and met with UO president Michael Gottfredson on Saturday.

"Oregon's been a victim of its own success and the way the picks have fallen," Scott said.

"Hopefully the rest of the season there won't be quite so many."

The conference's desire, he said, is to "strike a balance between what TV wants and the people who are actually coming to the games."

Asked about the Pac-12 Network still not being carried by DirecTV, Scott said he still had "hope" an agreement could be reached between the conference and the satellite provider.

"We created this for our fans, so we want all our fans to have it," Scott said, adding that "every customer has an option" and could switch to a provider that carries the Pac-12 Network.

He said the primary issue "seems to be about price. We've said (DirecTV) can have it on the same kind of terms DISH has it and cable operators have it "… who think it's fair and a great value."

The Pac-12's new media rights agreements will provide about $5 million in additional revenue for the Oregon athletic department this year, which the Ducks clarified on their website this week.

While there have been projections of as much as $30 million for the schools from those TV deals, the UO feels those are inflated, at least in the deals' infancy.

Oregon has budgeted for $14.74 million in TV revenue for the fiscal year, up from $9.78 million last year, a difference of $4.96 million.

Scott said, "I've been careful to not give any projections yet," because while the revenue from sources such as ESPN or Fox is a guaranteed amount, there remains uncertainty with the Pac-12 Network because it is still working on distribution and advertising income.

"I'd caution our schools not to plan on anything yet," Scott said, though "I'm expecting (the Pac-12 Network) will be quite profitable for our schools over time."

Scott said the conference leaders will meet this week and one of the topics is an injury report for Pac-12 teams, possibly similar to what the NFL does. Currently, each coach has his own policy on disclosing the health of players.

During visits to campuses in recent weeks, Scott said, "I've gotten varied reactions" from coaches on the topic, including some on the "opposite ends of the spectrum."

Scott also said that he, like many fans, has been "wondering" when the NCAA probe of Oregon football will produce results. Scott said he hasn't been involved beyond being briefed by members of his staff "who are very focused on it, and work very closely with the NCAA and (Oregon) on it.

"It's taken longer than people anticipated," Scott said, but as for a conclusion to the probe, "I couldn't hazard a guess or a projection."

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