Utah Utes basketball notebook: Larry Scott says Utah's integration has been smooth
LOS ANGELES — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the University of Utah has been a "very natural fit" for the conference. Nearly a year into it, he added, the league can look back and say the move to bring the Utes aboard made sense.
"As we anticipated the school is a great fit culturally, academically and with overall kind of values," Scott said. "In terms of the working relationships, it's been terrific and very smooth."
Scott noted that Utah's participation in the Pac-12 has produced a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, as has the Utes' passionate fan base. The league's chief executive is also appreciative of his visits to Salt Lake City and the campus. He praised the university and its leadership for being pro-active and always looking for ways to kind of elevate what the conference is doing.
"The school has been a tremendous contributor in the first year in all of our discussions at every level," Scott said.
NOT QUITE YET: Scott said reports that the Pac-12 Tournament will be moving to the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas next year are premature.
"We haven't made any decision yet," he explained. "I know there's a lot of speculation because we're getting close to a decision."
Scott noted that all of the Pac-12's stakeholder groups, including athletic directors, faculty representatives and senior women administrators, are meeting this week.
Ultimately, though, Scott said that major decisions are made by the conference's presidents and chancellors. They aren't scheduled to meet until this weekend, meaning any venue switch likely won't be made and/or announced until after this year's tournament.
PLENTY OF SEATS: When asked about Wednesday's small crowds at the Staples Center, Scott said that he didn't think it was unusual for a conference tournament to start out slow. Things will build, he predicted, as the week progresses.
Even so, Scott acknowledged there is room for improvement.
"We'd love a full house every single round and we'll work towards that," Scott said.
TOUGH CAMPAIGN: The current state of Pac-12 basketball isn't lost on Scott. He's well aware that the conference is "off from historical levels."
Scott, though, is optimistic about the future.
"The more I talk to people, the more I realize this is cyclical — all conferences go through cycles," he said before expressing confidence that the Pac-12 will get back to being "one of the elite basketball conferences."
HALL OF HONOR: Utah's Arnie Ferrin, who led the Utes to the 1944 NCAA and 1947 NIT championships, will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor at this week's conference tournament.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said that the four-time All-American is well deserving of the honor. The 86-year-old Ferrin recently attended the Utes' "Alumni Weekend" gathering.
"I introduced him to our players and wanted to make sure that some of those guys understand the past," Krystkowiak said. "As much as we want everybody to be a part of the future of our program, it's important that everybody involved with it right now understand part of the past. So it's a big thing."
Ferrin is joined in this year's class of inductees by Richard Jefferson (Arizona), Kurt Nimphius (Arizona State), Lamond Murray (California), Burdette Haldorson (Colorado), Jim Barnett (Oregon), A.C. Green (Oregon State), George Selleck (Stanford), Ed O'Bannon (UCLA), Sam Barry (USC), George Irvine (Washington) and Steve Puidokas (Washington State).
Contributing: Brad Rock
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