Former Pac-12 Network President and CFO Sue Pac-12 For Firing and Defaming Them
Mark Shuken and Brent Willman filed a lawsuit yesterday against Pac-12 Enterprises, LLC and Pac-12 Network LLC, and Pac-12 Conference (collectively, “Pac-12”) for alleging unlawful termination, defamation, and breach of contract. Shuken was the President of Pac-12 Network, LLC, and Willman was Chief Financial Officer of the Pac-12 Conference, LLC.
Shuken and Willman allege the Pac-12, the powerful college athletic conference, retaliated against them by unlawfully firing the former top executives and defaming them in a press release that cast the highly respected sports executives as unethical and responsible for the Pac 12’s financial mismanagement.
As alleged, Pac-12 learned in 2017 of results from an external subscriber audit it ordered for the year end 2016, revealing Comcast, a Pac-12 distributor, was potentially, erroneously overpaying Pac-12 by approximately $5 million annually. Comcast, like most other cable and satellite operators and distributors, enter into distribution agreements to pay Pac-12 for subscriber services and determine their subscriber fee calculations unilaterally.
The complaint alleges Willman and Shuken shared the preliminary audit results that showed a potential cable television overpayment with then Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott, who kept the information from the Pac-12 Board, and denied the findings of the audit results.
In November 2022, Comcast conducted its own internal audit and discovered the overpayment itself, which had then accumulated to $50 million dating back to 2012. Seeking to deflect any blame, the complaint alleges the Pac-12 terminated Willman and Shuken, publicly blaming them for “failing to disclose” the audit results to the Pac-12 Board and external auditors in 2017.
Willman and Shuken allege that both of their employment contracts specify they report directly to the Commissioner, not to the Board, and they both repeatedly raised the audit results with Commissioner Larry Scott at the time.
The complaint alleges the Pac-12 terminated Willman and Shuken and publicly blamed them for the failure to disclose the audit results in order to deflect blame and avoid scrutiny.
Willman and Shuken, respected and loyal professionals with decades of experience, bring claims for defamation, retaliation, breach of contract, and injunctive relief.