The Pac-12 announced Sunday that it will introduce an 11 a.m. PT television window to reduce the number of night games that conference teams play this upcoming football season.
The morning kickoffs will replace an evening time slot on Pac-12 Networks, though exactly how many there are will be determined as the season progresses.
“This is a positive step for Pac-12 fans across the Conference,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “There has been an adjustment over the last two years with our new television agreement, and we believe fans — both in our stadiums and in the television audience — will benefit.”
The change is a move away from Scott’s stance last season, when he repeatedly defended the league’s frequent late starts by deferring to TV numbers. Because the Pac-12 can schedule games after conferences farther east like the SEC and Big Ten, it gets on screen when there is less competition — but also when many East Coasters are often asleep.
“The truth is they rate well,” he said last October. “We get a lot of attention because there’s not a lot that’s going on.”
New deals with FOX and ESPN bumped the Pac-12’s revenue to $334 million in 2012-13, the record for any major conference.
Scott also said in October that he understood the burden late starts placed on campuses and fans, and emphasized the need to spread the load throughout the conference. However, UCLA bore a heavy brunt early on, kicking off four of its first five games at 7 p.m. PT or later.
This latest move will likely still draw mixed reactions. Although an 11 a.m. start would be preferable to some families with children or Pac-12 fans on the east coast (as well as reporters on deadline), others won’t be happy with disrupted tailgates.
The change also doesn’t reduce the number of weeknight games in the conference, which are broadcast on ESPN.
The same press release announced other two other decisions out of the Pac-12’s summer meetings: the conference’s continued push for NCAA reform, including expanding scholarships and changing the ‘one-and-done’ rule in basketball; and a three-year extension of the $3.5 million grant program funding student-athlete health research.