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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 6, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Woodward on Pac-10 expansion: “Everyone’s feeling is very good”

Had a chance to talk with UW athletic director Scott Woodward tonight after the conclusion of what could prove to be pretty historic day for the Pac-10 Conference as the conference’s presidents and chancellors gave commissioner Larry Scott the okay to pursue expansion.
As Woodward said in this story for tomorrow’s paper, this move doesn’t guarantee that expansion will happen. As he said, everything that’s been speculated is still on the table (and even, it’s probably worth adding, some scenarios that haven’t hit print), including keeping the status quo.
But this move makes expansion much more likely, enabling the Pac-10 to be light on its feet to react quickly to whatever happens elsewhere.
The Pac-10 ADs and presidents/CEOs heard presentations this weekend on expansion and today’s news means that they apparently liked all of them enough to give Scott the okay to enact any of them. That’s a pretty big change in philosphy for a conference known for decades for its love of the status quo.
But as Woodward said tonight “it’s a direction that the CEO’s clearly wanted to go when they picked Larry as our commissioner.”
What it could mean for the Huskies (and every other school in the Pac-10) is what people in the business call “game-changing money.”
Consider that UW has a $60 million athletic budget. Consider further that under most of these expansion proposals, every Pac-10 school could get an additional $20 million or so a year. That’s obviously a really big deal (even bigger for schools like Washington State, with a $30 million budget) and solves a heck of a lot of problems while also allowing them to keep up with the Jonses’ in the SEC and Big Ten.
And that’s enough to quell any worries about disrupting tradition or travel schedules, etc. Though the reality is also that the disruptions potentially aren’t as great as it might seem.
As detailed earlier, a likely scenario if the Pac-10 adds the six Big 12 teams is two eight-team divisions, with one consisting of what was essentially the old Pac-8 until Arizona and Arizona State were added in 1978.
For football, those eight teams would likely play each other each year, plus two against the teams in the other division (Arizona, Arizona State and the six Big 12 schools). Some years, all that might mean is a trip to Colorado, probably easier than getting to Tucson.
Other sports would be done similarly, with the majority of games played in your division. quotes Scott saying tonight that the new lineup could be in place by the 2012-13 academic year. It also quotes him saying this will all be decided by the end of the year, something he has consistently said on numerous occassions the past few months. (The story also quotes Mark Emmert, still UW’s president until taking over as head of the NCAA in the fall, saying that all of this remains “complicated”).
The end-of-the-year deadline is in large part because the Pac-10 wants its new lineup in place when it starts the process of negotiating new TV deals after the first of the year — those would also take effect for the 2012-13 academic year, meaning the Pac-10, for once, probably couldn’t have better timing.
As Woodward said tonight: “Everyone’s feeling is very good. … We like the situation that we are in. We are in a position of strength to negotiate a good TV contract in the next 18 months and I think we believe as athletic directors throughout the conference that the future looks very bright for the Pac-10.”
A future that also is a lot closer to looking a heck of a lot different than its past.



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