Adhering to court order, Pac-12 approves staff retention plan to stave off possible mass exodus

At stake: More than $400 million in media rights revenue

According to a source familiar with the situation, the Pac-12 presidents approved an employee retention and severance plan on Tuesday in order to keep the collapsing conference staffed to the level required to produce roughly 1,000 live events and meet contractual obligations to its media partners.

Executives are concerned that a mass exodus of conference employees could jeopardize the production of competitions worth more than $400 million in media rights revenue from ESPN, Fox, and other partners next summer, with 10 schools leaving for other leagues. A significant reduction in staffing could also jeopardize the experience of thousands of Pac-12 athletes in all sports in 2023-24.

According to the court order, all 12 presidents and chancellors signed off on the retention and severance plan but did not hold a formal vote.

A Whitman County (Washington) judge issued a temporary restraining order on Monday, preventing the Pac-12’s board of directors from meeting until the court determines the board’s proper makeup in the aftermath of the collapse.

Washington State and Oregon State believe their presidents are the only remaining members of the board and have requested a restraining order to prevent the conference’s outgoing ten schools from forming a voting bloc that will determine the conference’s future.

Judge Gary Libey granted the request but included a provision in his ruling that allows the Pac-12 to conduct normal business as long as any measure is approved unanimously.

The retention-and-severance plan necessitates significant administrative work and will most likely be implemented at the end of the month:

According to the source, the severance component applies to all 192 full-time employees and includes both COBRA and outplacement support.

— The retention component applies to more than 90% of employees.

The retention-and-severance plan does not include Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who reports directly to the board of directors.

The schools have not approved a separate scope-of-services plan to determine which Pac-12 services should be maintained as is, reduced, or eliminated. Once the restraining order is lifted, a formal board vote will be required.

Kliavkoff’s retention and severance plan was advised by an independent, outside firm hired by the Pac-12.

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