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Utah football: It's official, Utes land in Pac-12 South Division

Published: Monday, July 27 2015 8:13 p.m. MDT

Utah players sing Utah players sing "Utah Man" after the Utes defeated New Mexico 56-14 on September 18, 2010. (Tyler Cobb, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Utes are headed south.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott made the announcement Thursday morning after a meeting of the conference's presidents and chancellors.

Utah and Colorado, which both will join the league on July 1, 2011, have been assigned to the soon-to-be-dubbed Pac-12's South Division in football along with Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC. The North Division will be composed of California, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.

Top finishers in each division will square off in a Pac-12 Championship Game each December at the home of the conference's top-ranked team.

Teams will play everyone in their division once each year plus four teams from the other grouping. A compromise was reached to assure that the four California schools meet on an annual basis. A rotation also will be established to ensure that every school in the North will play in Los Angeles at least every other year.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of NCAA college football divisions during a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday. Colorado and Utah recently accepted invitations to join the Pac-10 in the conference's first expansion since 1978, necessitating many changes for when the league becomes a 12-team conference next July 1. (Paul Sakuma, Associated Press) Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of NCAA college football divisions during a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday. Colorado and Utah recently accepted invitations to join the Pac-10 in the conference's first expansion since 1978, necessitating many changes for when the league becomes a 12-team conference next July 1. (Paul Sakuma, Associated Press)

The football plan was one of several announcements Scott made at a press conference in San Francisco following a meeting of the league's governing body, and the university presidents and chancellors.

Arizona State president Michael Crow, chairman of the Pac-10 CEO Group, said all votes were unanimous.

"This has been a very thorough process that created a lot of discussion and has delivered results that we are all very excited about," Crow said in a released statement. "The engagement we have received from all 12 member institutions and their presidents and chancellors has been tremendous. We have an ambitious plan for the future of our conference, and all of that input was vital in allowing us to take these transformational steps."

Utah athletics director Chris Hill, who communicated with university President Michael Young before and after the gathering, said things turned out well.

Pac-12 alignment (Deseret News graphic, ) Pac-12 alignment (Deseret News graphic, )

"We're very pleased with the outcome of the meeting and think it's a great day for the league," Hill explained.

Schedules for the 2011 football season are expected to be released in the next 30 to 45 days. Utah, however, has already been assured that five of its nine Pac-12 games next fall will take place at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

When asked if he would comment on the announcements when they were made, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham maintained his stance to not discuss the future until this season was complete.

"Nothing. Nothing. Zero. Zip," he said following practice on Wednesday.

Earlier that day as a guest on "Jim Rome is Burning," Whittingham explained his silence on the matter.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of NCAA college football divisions during a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday. Colorado and Utah recently accepted invitations to join the Pac-10 in the conference's first expansion since 1978, necessitating many changes for when the league becomes a 12-team conference next July 1. (Paul Sakuma, Associated Press) Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of NCAA college football divisions during a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday. Colorado and Utah recently accepted invitations to join the Pac-10 in the conference's first expansion since 1978, necessitating many changes for when the league becomes a 12-team conference next July 1. (Paul Sakuma, Associated Press)

"You don't say Pac-10 in this building," he said. "Right now it's all about the Mountain West, and as soon as this season is over we'll make that transition."

Switching conferences will bring about several other changes.

The Pac-10's presidents and chancellors also approved revenue sharing and scheduling plans for sports other than football.

"Our key objective was to transform the Pac-10 to a modern 12-team conference that has long-term strength, increased value, competitive balance and is fan-friendly, and we have done that with these monumental decisions today," Scott said in making the announcement. "By unanimously adopting a plan for equal revenue sharing, we have created a conference with a strong foundation for long-term success. It's an exciting day for the Pac-12 and all of our fans."

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of the league into two divisions during a news conference in San Francisco. (Associated Press) Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of the league into two divisions during a news conference in San Francisco. (Associated Press)

Media revenue will be shared equally by all 12 schools.

For the next five years, however, there's a clause that would compensate UCLA and USC if revenues fall short of $170 million. Both the Bruins and Trojans benefit from the current deal, which is based on television appearances. Under the new arrangement, both schools would receive an additional $2 million a year if the $170 million isn't reached.

As part of Utah's agreement to join the league, the Utes won't receive a full share of Pac-12 television revenue until 2014.

On the basketball front, the presidents and chancellors approved an 18-game league schedule. In all sports, where applicable, Utah and Colorado will be travel partners. The basketball schedule will include home-and-home games against seven teams and a yearly rotation with the four others.

When Utah and Colorado join the league, the conference will officially change its name to the Pac-12. The Utes have been in the Mountain West Conference since the league was formed in 1999, while the Buffaloes are moving over from the Big 12.

Utah's revenue shares

A Pac-12 revenue sharing plan was approved by the conference's presidents and chancellors on Thursday. When a new television contract is in place for 2012-13, the league will begin the policy of equal shares. UCLA and USC will receive stipends of $2 million per year until conference television revenue reaches $170 million or for five years, whichever comes first. The ACC's new contract is $150 million, but recent deals for the Big Ten and SEC are in excess of $200 million. All other revenue, such as NCAA basketball and bowl revenue, is already shared equally.

The Utes, though, have a unique arrangement — agreed upon when they were invited to join the league. Here's the details:

2011-12: No shares unless new money is created by the addition of Colorado and Utah. The Utes, however, will be entitled to an equal share of Pac-12 Championship Game television revenue, as well as ticket sales and other income.

2012-13: Utah will receive a 50 percent distribution of all league revenue. For example: If each school gets $16 million, Utah will get $8 million.

2013-14: Utah will receive a 75 percent distribution of all league revenue. For example: If each school gets $16 million, Utah will get $12 million.

2014-15: Utah will receive a 100 percent distribution of all league revenue. For example: If each school gets $16 million, Utah will get $16 million.

SOURCE: Utah Sports Information

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