Utah Utes leaving Mountain West Conference to join Pac-10 in 2011
At the Pac-10 Conference annual meetings on June 4, Scott laid out a host of expansion scenarios to his athletic directors, including adding the six Big 12 schools — Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Colorado — adding just Colorado and Utah, or standing pat with a 10-team league. He was reportedly given the OK by the Pac-10 chancellors and presidents to pursue the two expansion plans.
Late last week, Scott flew to some of the cities in the Big 12 including Austin and Lubbock, Texas. At that point, things were looking bleak for Utah, which welcomed Boise State into the Mountain West Conference on Friday, to have any chance of moving to the Pac-10.
Then Texas A&M began looking to join the Southeastern Conference and Scott looked to Utah and Kansas as replacements in the deal for Texas A&M. However on Sunday, word came that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was putting together a TV package that would satisfy Texas and keep the remaining 10 Big 12 teams together. When that happened, the Pac-10 asked Utah to join Colorado, which was one of the league's expansion plans all along.
While one U. official said Wednesday the approval of the U. trustees was not a foregone conclusion, it would be extremely surprising if the board turned down the offer to stay in the Mountain West Conference.
Young had said while his school was happy with the MWC, that money is a big consideration in college athletics with costs going up every year.
"The real money is in the TV revenues and has been for a long time," he said.
The MWC has a TV deal worth $1.3 million per year, while the Pac-10 is reportedly working on a new deal that would be in the neighborhood of $15 million to $20 million per school per year.
Even before his school was invited to the Pac-10, Young said stadium expansion would happen at some point. Right now, Utah would be tied with Oregon State for the second smallest stadium in the Pac-10 at 45,000.
"We'll expand the stadium at some point," Young said. "It's structurally designed so that it's possible. We don't want to deny our fans the chance to see these teams play and that produces revenue."
Some faculty members expressed enthusiasm about the implications of the move for the U. as a whole.
"It really validates what we've known here at the U. for a while in terms of the trajectory of the U.," said James Metherall, a human genetics professor and president of the academic senate. "We fit right in with the other Pac-10 schools in terms of scope and mission."
He said the additional recognition from joining a major conference should translate into stronger applicants in both the student body and faculty.
Patrick Tripeny, an architecture professor who sits on the U.'s athletics advisory council, said faculty members can build relationships with Pac-10 schools without losing ties to MWC colleagues and others in the region.
"That's a great group of schools to be associated with," he said.
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