Recently the ten athletic directors who govern the Pacific Conference of college athletics were given the authorization to explore expanding the the "Pac-10" to the "Pac-12" or even "Pac-16".
After much political maneuvering, the Pac-10 was able to add The University of Utah and the University of Colorado to its athletic conference. By the start of the 2011 football season, Los Angeles area fans of UCLA and USC may need to add stops in Utah and Colorado to their travel schedule.
Starting in 2011, college sports teams from the current Pac-10 schools plus Utah and Colorado will compete for conference supremacy.
Over the last several weeks many sports-writers, college students, and faculty of the affected universities have written articles and blogged about the rationale behind expanding this highly traditional 10 school conference.
Not surprisingly, the answer is money.
The Pac-10, a very relevant conference in high revenue producing sports such as football and basketball, is missing some of the revenue producing devices that most major conferences already have in place. The Pac-10 is currently without a lucrative TV contract (especially as it pertains to televised football games) and does not have a college-football conference championship-game.
Conference championship-games, in addition to the lucrative TV deals that accompany them, has allowed the SEC and Big-12 conferences to earn upwards of $10 million more per season than the Pac-10.
By adding Denver Colorado, the 12th largest TV audience in the country, in addition to the loyal fan base of the University of Utah, the Pac-10 can be more aggressive in its TV contract negotiations scheduled for later this year.
Additionally, a conference championship game can help produce millions of dollars in extra revenue which will be spread out amongst the athletic programs of all twelve schools.
Although this expansion will remove some traditional components of Pac-10 athletic competition, the added revenue created by this move should be a benefit to all the college athletes of these twelve schools.