The Pac-12 Conference took major steps to transform itself into a dynamic new enterprise by forming two football divisions that maintain traditional rivalries, creating the first-ever Pac-12 football championship game, establishing schedule models for all other sports and agreeing to move to an equal revenue sharing plan for the first time in conference history, it was announced today.
The Chancellors and Presidents of the 12 member institutions voted to create a new North-South division structure that allows the conference to continue to play its traditional rivalry games, including the long-standing annual games among the California schools, delivers a football championship game to the home field of the top team in the conference standings and is easy for fans to follow.
"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," Commissioner Larry Scott said. "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."
"This has been a very thorough process that created a lot of discussion and has delivered results that we are all very excited about," said Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University and Chairman of the Pac-10 CEO Group. "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."
The new divisions will feature California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State in the North and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, and Utah in the South. Each school will play five divisional games, and four cross-divisional games each year. To preserve all of the historic rivalries, including those among the California schools, the new scheduling format locks in annual inter-divisional games between the Northern and Southern California teams, that date back to the 1930s.
The traditional rivalries like Oregon-Oregon State (113 meetings), Cal-Stanford (112), Washington-Washington State (102), Arizona-Arizona State (83) and UCLA-USC (79) will continue to be played at the end of each season. Not to be lost, USC has played Stanford (98 times) and Cal (89) more than it has faced cross town rival UCLA (79). Meanwhile USC, Cal and Stanford tie as UCLA's most frequent opponent at 79 meetings apiece. The divisions were formed based on the combination of rivalries, location and competitive balance.
"Not only did we achieve a competitive balance in our divisions, but we were also able to preserve our traditional rivalries as cornerstones of our conference," Scott said. "These great annual battles have produced some of the most memorable moments in sports history. It was imperative that we kept them in tact."
The inaugural Pac-12 Championship game will be played in December 2011 at the home stadium of the team with the best overall conference record, ensuring a full stadium and an electric collegiate atmosphere befitting of a major conference championship game.
There will not be divisions for Pac-12 basketball or any other sports. In men's and women's basketball, the teams will play an 18-game conference schedule that will include home and home games with traditional rivals, six rotating home and homes and single play games against the remaining four teams in the Conference.