Scott leaving WTA for Pac-10

Updated: March 25, 2009, 10:25 AM ET
By Ted Miller | ESPN.com

Larry Scott, chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), will be the next Pac-10 commissioner, replacing the retiring Tom Hansen on July 1, the conference announced Tuesday.

Scott will remain with the women's professional tennis circuit into June, the tour said Tuesday. He will work with the tour board to select his successor.

"With women's professional tennis more popular than ever, the Tour in the strongest business position in its history and a fantastic senior management team in place, now is the right time for me to embrace a new challenge consistent with my family and personal goals and leave room for the next generation of Tour leadership to take on new responsibilities," Scott said in a statement.

Scott started with the WTA in 2003 and helped transform the tour, including engineering the largest-ever sponsorship deal in women's sports, a six-year, $88 million title contract with Sony Ericsson. Under his leadership, the WTA also obtained the largest television agreements in women's tennis history, both nationally and internationally.

That skill developing business and media partnerships likely helped Scott's candidacy. Many in the Pac-10 have been unhappy with the conference's bowl and football television contracts, which are less lucrative and provide less exposure than those of the SEC and Big Ten.

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.

"He was the architect of a highly effective turnaround of women's tennis over the last six years and created a compelling vision that has served the sport and its athletes extremely well. We are also very pleased to bring on such a great advocate for both men's and women's sports."

Bowlsby said his committee began work last August and forwarded the names of four candidates to the conference presidents.

Other reported candidates included Sandy Alderson, outgoing CEO of the San Diego Padres and former executive vice president for Major League Baseball operations; and Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's senior vice president of basketball and business strategies, who turned down the job in January, according to the Sports Business Journal.

The Pac-10's member schools "are craving different, more media exposure, more commercial success where it's possible, innovative and different ways to promote the conference -- all things I feel I've done before," Scott said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Scott, a former Harvard All-American tennis player, played professionally for three years and won one tournament on the men's tour. He then spent a decade working as an executive for the ATP, serving in the posts of chief operating officer, president of ATP Properties and executive vice president of the International Group.

"Under Larry's leadership, the tour and our sport have grown over the past six years beyond anyone's wildest expectations," said Steve Simon, tournament board representative and chairman of the tournament council.

Scott will be the Pac-10's sixth commissioner. Hansen is stepping down after 26 years atop the conference.

Ted Miller covers the Pac-10 for ESPN.com and can be reached at tedmillerespn@gmail.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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