ASU's Michael Crow slammed for 2019 Pac-12 comments amid college conference realignment

·7 min read

Some comments Arizona State University President Michael Crow made to The Arizona Republic in 2019 have made the rounds on Twitter amid college conference expansion and realignment discussion.

And they are not going over well.

Crow was an ardent supporter of former Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and spoke highly of the future of the conference in the 2019 interview with The Republic's Jeff Metcalfe, where he said, among other things: "By my standard, we’re on track, we’re doing well, we’re making progress and we’re positioning ourselves for greatness going forward. What somebody will be writing about three years from now or four years will be, 'How did the Pac-12 get ahead of us.' "

It's been more than three years since he made the comments, and the Pac-12 is currently in a state of flux with USC and UCLA set to leave the conference for the Big Ten in college football realignment, leaving a lot of questions surrounding the future of the conference.

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More of Michael Crow's comments from that 2019 interview with The Arizona Republic:

On criticism of the Pac-12 Conference: 

"To some extent, I don’t really understand it," Crow said. "What I mean by that is when I came here in this job 16 years ago, the conference had very little income, the conference was not highly capable of doing all the things we’re now capable of doing.

"Several of us including myself decided we needed to go in a new trajectory. We decided to acquire a new commissioner, do a new television contract and launch a network. Also to expand the conference from 10 to 12.

"Of the 10 presidents that were in the room at the time, three of us are still there. All the others have traded out. Now what we have is people arriving on the scene now and they’re looking around and saying look at all the resources the SEC has and look at all the resources the Big Ten has, and we don’t have the same resources. We’re like no, but as soon as our contracts are renegotiated, we’ll have more and we’re extremely well positioned with our network to do all kinds of things.

"I’m basically urging everyone, it’s a long-term play so you have to take a long-term view. Relative to the long term, we’re doing exceedingly well on every front and we have more control. The others have sold their networks to commercial entities and thereby have lost control of their networks and lost control of their scheduling and other things, and we have not.

"I don’t know who’s doing all the portrayals (of Pac-12). If they’re looking at income from the Big Ten and the SEC, yes our income is lower than theirs. If they’re looking at our particular football performance, mediocre compared to others but lots of new coaching appointments, lots of new opportunities.

"I don’t know if I would judge the future of UCLA football based on this year’s football outcome. By my standard, we’re on track, we’re doing well, we’re making progress and we’re positioning ourselves for greatness going forward. What somebody will be writing about three years from now or four years will be, 'How did the Pac-12 get ahead of us.' "

More: Pac-12 has been 'fractured' by Big Ten, Big 12 conference realignment, expansion chatter

ASU's President Michael Crow (L) talks with Athletic Director Ray Anderson during the second half at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. on Sept. 1, 2018.
ASU's President Michael Crow (L) talks with Athletic Director Ray Anderson during the second half at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. on Sept. 1, 2018.

On the Pac-12's income gap compared to other Power 5 conferences:

"Conference income is a tiny part of everybody’s income," Crow said about the Pac-12 income gap compared to other Power 5 conferences. "It’s just a piece of everybody’s income. You have your own advertising, conference income, donor income, athletic revenue themselves, other sources of income. From the conference perspective, we’re up five- or sixfold from where we were. We’re continuing to accelerate the network. We’re not producing out of our television contract quite what the others are producing at the moment. Theirs came up and were renewed after ours was put in place. I don’t have any long-term concerns. There might be some issues on the short run.

"I also don’t think the best way to measure things is resources. The best way to measure things is graduation rates, championships, all kinds of things. There’s ups and down for everybody in those arenas so I think that when we made our strategic chance, which was to modernize the conference. From that point forward, things have gone very well, and I expect they will continue to go well. There may be some short-term heartburn that somebody is making more revenue than we are in conference A or conference B, but that’s an episodic thing."

More: Pac-12 conference realignment: ASU's Michael Crow, Arizona's Robert C. Robbins could be key

Criticism of Michael Crow's comments, stance on the state of the Pac-12 Conference:

Several writers and ASU insiders have looked back at Crow's statements in his interview with The Arizona Republic in 2019 on social media amid college conference expansion and realignment and they have not looked back favorably.

Here are some of their thoughts on Crow's statements about the state of the conference then, and the state of the conference now.

More: Are Pac-12 schools ASU, Arizona a package deal in college conference realignment?

Don't discount Michael Crow's influence in Pac-12 Conference

The San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner recently ranked Pac-12 presidents by their clout in the conference and Crow was ranked No. 4 on his list.

"Crow should be damaged goods in the boardroom given his steadfast support for Larry Scott and comically misguided faith in the very policies that landed the conference in this position," Wilner wrote of the Arizona State president. "But don’t presume the other presidents view him that way. Crow isn’t shy about making his opinions known, for better or worse."

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Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Pac-12 Conference comments by ASU's Michael Crow in 2019 slammed