It’s official, Utah accepts membership in Pac-10.
And president says the Utes look forward to “one more year” in the Mountain West, implying Pac-10 membership in 2011 … one season earlier than previously announced.
President also said the conference will become the Pac-12 … although neither that nor the 2011 entry has been officially announced by the league.
President also points out 7-3 record in last 10 football meetings against Pac-10 opponents and all-time winning record against the current Pac-10 members, plus Colorado.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott calls this “a landmark occasion … a major step forward for our conference … Utah’s a great fit.” But his prepared remarks included nothing about the things most fans would be most interested in: divisions. TV contracts, when Colorado and Utah join, what the conference will be called, scheduling, etc. In Q&A with Utah media, he said no decision yet on divisions or championship game.
Here is the release from the Pac-10:
The Pacific-10 Conference announced today that the University of Utah has accepted an invitation to join the Conference as its 12th member. The Utes and the University of Colorado, which accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10 last week, are the Conference’s newest members since 1978.
“The addition of the University of Utah as the Conference’s 12th member continues to strengthen the Pac-10′s goals of becoming the country’s leader in college athletics,” said Larry Scott. “The University of Utah is a great academic and athletic fit, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Pac-10.”
“I have no doubt that, speaking for the entire University of Utah family, we could not be more pleased to accept the invitation to join the Pac-10,” said Michael Young, University president. “The University of Utah will be a great contributor to an already great conference and this will be tremendous both academically and athletically for the University.”
Utah’s academic and athletic profile is a great fit for the Pac-10 Conference. The University’s high academic excellence ranks it among the top-100 universities in the world and is the only institution in the state to earn a top-tier ranking from the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and has done so for the last five years.
Utah is among a network of 52 consortia of universities leading the way in space-related research, including the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Oregon State University, UCLA, USC, Washington and future member Colorado.
In addition, Utah ranks among the top public research universities in the nation, with particular distinction in medicine, genetics and engineering. Acclaimed faculty member Mario R. Capecchi was a 2007 Noble Prize winner and will fit in to the roster of 25 Nobel laureates from California and other Pac-10 institutions.
With the addition of Utah and Colorado, the Conference’s institutions reside in six of the nation’s top 35 media markets with an expanse that ranges from big metropolitan cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, to the deserts of Arizona, the northwest corridor, and the Rocky Mountain range. The Utah campus played an intergral part of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games with its Heritage Commons serving as the Athletes Village.
In addition to the shared academic excellence, the Utah and the existing Pac-10 member institutions hold impressive athletic resumes, including Stanford’s 15-consecutive Learfield Sports Directors’ Cups and UCLA’s 106 NCAA Championships. Pac-10 teams have combined to win 390 NCAA titles, by far the most of any other conference in the country, and the Utes will add to that 20 NCAA titles, including 10 in skiing and nine in women’s gymnastics.
On the court, Utah brings with it one of the more successful men’s basketball programs in NCAA history, ranking in the top-15 in all-time wins, along with UCLA and Washington. On the football field, the Utes own the nation’s longest active bowl win streak (nine games). With its excellence in men’s basketball and football, Utah is the only school in NCAA history to produce No. 1 draft picks in the NFL and NBA in the same year.
Under the direction of Hill, Utah’s director of athletics since 1987, the Utes sponsors 18 varsity sports. Men’s sports include football, basketball, baseball, golf, swimming and diving, skiing and tennis. Women’s sports include basketball, cross country, gymnastics, skiing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball. The Pac-10 currently sponsors all of those sports with the exception of skiing.
PAC-10 AND UTAH
On the football field, the Utes have battled current Pac-10 teams 143 times, going 12-11 against them since 1994. Utah has defeated a Pac-10 team every year since 2001, except 2006. Arizona and Utah have been rivals since 1924, meeting 36 times during that span and renewing the series in 2000.
Utah and UCLA have combined to win 15 (of 29) NCAA women’s gymnastics championships with 54 individual NCAA champions. From 1983-86, a Pac-10 school finished as the runner-up to Utah, while the Utes finished second to the Bruins’ national championship win in 2000.
In 1998, the Utes defeated defending national champion Arizona to advance to the NCAA Final Four, but the Wildcats returned the favor in 2009, upsetting fifth-seeded Utah in the first round.