“I’ve been in tennis my whole life…”

The Pac-10’s choice to play Jim Delany’s sidekick as its new conference commissioner is… Larry Scott, a former collegiate tennis player at Harvard and for the past six years the chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

Interesting choice (and evidently not the first choice), to say the least.

The reasoning behind the pick seems scattered.  On the one hand, the search committee liked his background.

… Scott’s background as a tennis player and leader of a women’s pro sports organization probably eased fears among women’s and non-revenue sports advocates that the next commissioner would be all about football.

“Our search committee was most impressed with Larry’s broad range of leadership experiences in both men’s and women’s sports, as well as his extensive success in representing the commercial interest of men’s and women’s tennis,” Bob Bowlsby, athletic director of Stanford and head of the search committee, said in a statement.

But, let’s face it – women’s and non-revenue sports aren’t driving the train.  We all know what is.

… He became the CEO of the WTA in 2003, after having been ATP chief operating officer and president of ATP Properties. Under his watch, the WTA pushed for — and got — equal prize money for women at Wimbledon and the French Open.

“Despite all the financial success and commercial success, by far the achievement I’m most proud of is equal prize money,” Scott said.

“He brings a lot of great skills and experience to the job,” said Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, who led the Pac-10’s search and screening committee.

“He has great experience in branding. He has great experience in sponsorship development and in television negotiations,” Bowlsby said in a telephone interview. “He has the right energy to build upon a great foundation with the Pac-10.”

How well raising money in women’s pro tennis translates over to getting better media contracts and exposure in collegiate athletics – for that, read football and men’s basketball – is anybody’s guess.  Including Scott’s.

… An extension or change of the postseason format could sidetrack the Pac-10 and Big Ten’s long relationship with the Rose Bowl, which Scott acknowledges, “is a very sensitive issue and of great benefit to the conference.”

While emphasizing that he ultimately works for the presidents and chancellors of the 10 schools in the league, and it’s at that level that such decisions are ultimately made, Scott says he will bring a new outlook to any future discussions.

“I think the reason the presidents wanted me (for the job) was because I come with a fresh perspective and an open mind, and I think they have an open mind,” he said. “I have a lot to learn and to understand about the issues, but one perspective also is to look at what fans may want and at what will drive the most revenue.

“I am familiar with those issues from being with the WTA. Sometimes we made compromises. But I don’t pretend to be an expert yet, and whatever point of view I have, you have to work closely with other conference commissioners…”

And with that, Jim Delany leaned back in his chair and smiled.

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