Utah Invited to Join the Pac-10Posted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2010
As expected, the Pac-10 formally extended an invitation to the University of Utah this afternoon, sending shivers of teetotaling anticipation up and down the Wasatch Range for Utah trustees to sign the deal before Texas hears a new pitch and changes its mind again. The Board of Trustees will meet on Thursday and a press conference is scheduled to announced the move at 1 pm MT tomorrow afternoon, signifying that Utah might end up being the biggest winner in this entire conference realignment process. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the school earned only $1.2M in television revenue from the Mountain West last year, while the Pac-10 under its previous television deal distributed $8-$10M each to its members. The expectation is that Utah could with this move theoretically be looking at ten times as much revenue than it was previously earning , which probably explains why fruit baskets from SLC to Austin were in rapid transit this week and also why the trustees are falling all over themselves to get this thing confirmed.
This addition (remember, this was the expected move prior to all the Big 12 implosion nonsense of the past few weeks) will with Denver (#18) and Salt Lake City (#31) give the Pac-10 footprint nine of the top 31 television markets in the country starting in 2011-12, more than any other major conference. While Commissioner Larry Scott would have mightily preferred to add the lucrative Texas markets to his conference (Dallas and Houston are both in the top ten), these two additions ensure that the new Pac-12 will dominate college athletics in both the Mountain and Pacific time zones for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of dominance, how will the addition of Utah impact Pac-10 basketball? Unlike former Big 12 bottom-feeder Colorado, Utah actually has a strong tradition of hoops excellence that it can bring to bear in its new league. The Utes had a phenomenal program from 1989-2004 under Rick Majerus, going to ten NCAA Tournaments and the title game in 1998, but in recent years they’ve been passed by local schools BYU and Utah State for hardwood superiority in the region. The Beehive State, however, is generally very supportive of basketball, and with the new recruiting inroads that Pac-10 membership will afford Jim Boylen’s team, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Utah to once again surge forward as a consistently competitive basketball program in coming seasons.