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Utah Utes football: Wait to officially join Pac-12 is over

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 3:39 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — On the eve of their transformation into the Pac-12, it was business as usual for the Utah Utes.

Athletics director Chris Hill spent the program's final day in the Mountain West Conference working in his Huntsman Center office.

"For me, one day is not much different from another," he said while noting there's been plenty to do on a daily basis as the Utes switch conferences.

Hill acknowledged it's been a bit of a grind because of all the new things and preparation involved.

It's been more than a year since Utah and Colorado were invited to join an expanding Pac-10. The reality of what is going on, Hill noted, has made for a slow process throughout the months that followed.

The wait, however, is over.

The Utes and Buffaloes officially become members on Friday, joining Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State in one of the nation's most elite and lucrative conferences.

As exciting as it is, though, it isn't enough to alter Hill's sleep schedule. He had no plans to be awake at midnight when things became official.

"No. Not me," Hill said. "I'm going to bed at the usual early time."

The time for celebrating is Friday at noon. That's when Utah's "Pac-12 Day" celebration takes place on the south lawn of the state capitol. Admission and parking to the special gathering is free. Hill and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott are among the scheduled speakers.

Hill said it's an opportunity to enjoy what is a huge, long-term change for both the university and the community.

"We hope that as many as are available come out and celebrate with us," Hill said.

Other dignitaries scheduled to participate include congressman Jim Matheson and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who will officially declare July 1 as "Utah Pac-12 Day" in the state.

The Utah pep band will provide musical entertainment while the cheerleaders, dance team and "Swoop" hand out temporary face tattoos to the crowd. A student tent party is also on the agenda.

Utah joins the Pac-12 after competing in the Mountain West Conference since 1999. The Utes were founding members of the league along with Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming. TCU joined the MWC in 2005.

Pac-12 celebration to be held at Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah will provide free shuttle service from three campus locations to the south lawn of the state Capitol for Friday's "Pac-12 Day" celebration. Shuttles will pick up fans from the Heritage Center, Rice-Eccles Stadium and the married student housing villages every 30 minutes beginning at 10:30 a.m. Admission and parking for the celebration is free.

The program will begin at noon and feature several speakers including Utah athletics director Chris Hill, university interim president Lorris Betz, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Congressman Jim Matheson. Lt. Gov. Greg Bell will formally declare it "Utah Pac-12 Day."

Fans who arrive early will receive free ice cream sandwiches. Utah's cheerleaders, dance team and mascot "Swoop" will distribute temporary face tattoos while the pep band plays.

A new era for Utah

1910-38 — Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

1938-48 — Big Seven Conference

1948-62 — Skyline Conference

1962-99 — Western Athletic Conference

1999-2011 — Mountain West Conference

2011 — Pacific-12 Conference

email: dirk@desnews.com

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