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When you follow college sports closely it takes a major story for you to be truly astonished about tone-deaf excesses, but we’ve got one of those on our hands with the Pac-12. Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, who is basically averaging a bombshell story a week of late about the conference, reports that Larry Scott and a number of other Pac-12 and Pac-12 Network executives awarded themselves performance bonuses about one month before approximately half of the conference’s employees were furloughed or laid off.
Between the Pac-12 conference and networks divisions, there were 196 employees. On August 26th, 15 were laid off and 79 were furloughed.
Larry Scott makes about $5.3 million per year between base and bonus, and announced he would take a pay cut of about 12 percent of his pay for fiscal year 2021; this amounts to a $636,000 cut (even before this story, there was already outcry that he was not making a bigger sacrifice). Other employees in the conference making over $100,000 per year are taking tiered cuts.
A Pac-12 spokesperson acknowledged to Wilner that bonuses were paid, justified them as a mechanism for key employee retention at a time when layoffs and furloughs were clearly possible with the looming disruption of football season (some of those furloughed did have that blow softened by receiving a bonus), and said that salary reductions and bonuses tracked with what was happening with employees on Pac-12 campuses.
Wilner did some back of the envelope math to try and figure out how much money in bonuses were paid out:
But the number is likely substantial: The Hotline confirmed that multiple middle-level managers received them. One manager pegged the number of employees receiving bonuses at 50. Even if the total is significantly lower, the bonuses paid this summer — including those to Scott and all the senior executives — could approach $4 million based on the data from previous years. At an average salary of $100,000 (including benefits) for non-managerial employees, that $4 million in bonuses would equate to about 40 full-time positions.
It’s an ugly look, but on a scale of 1 to 10 how surprised are you?