Pac-10 moves closer to resolving key issues

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference is close to resolving the complicated issues surrounding revenue sharing and a division split after adding Colorado and Utah.

Speaking Saturday at Stanford's football game against Southern California, Scott said the final decisions will be announced after the presidents and chancellors meet in San Francisco on Oct. 21.

"We've gotten where I'd hope we get in advance of our meeting with presidents and chancellors," Scott said. "We're in great shape."

The conference's athletic directors met for two days this week hashing out many of the details surrounding revenue sharing, divisional alignment and a championship game in football. The changes were needed after the Pac-10 added Utah and Colorado for next season in the conference's first expansion since 1978.

With 12 teams, the conference needs to split into divisions for football in order to stage a lucrative championship game. Scott said the conference will already get additional television revenue next year because of the two new teams and the championship game. Negotiations for a new TV deal starting in 2012-13 will begin in January and are expected to provide an even bigger increase.

Dividing that money is a thorny issue. Currently, about half of the football television revenue is split evenly with the other half divided based on how many times each school is televised. That has historically favored the Los Angeles schools as UCLA and USC usually are on TV more than the other schools. That also means most schools want to be in a division with the Los Angeles teams unless the formula is changed.

The rest of the revenue from sources such as bowl games, the NCAA basketball tournament and basketball television revenue is split evenly. According to IRS filings, the Pac-10 payouts range from less $7 million for Stanford to about $11.5 million for USC.

"It's just this one piece of revenue that's been unequal," Scott said. "Our challenge is how do we respect the history of what has been but progress and have a more modern approach of what we're doing. An appearance-based method for splitting revenue we feel is an antiquated model. We've been committed to change the model but we do want to respect the history."

The conference is looking at several division options. The four California schools could remain together with the two Arizona schools in one division, or the California schools could split up with Cal and Stanford joining the four Northwest teams in one division and Colorado and Utah joining the Los Angeles and Arizona schools in the other.

Or there could be a "zipper" model where some or all of the natural rivals are split into separate divisions but still play each other each year.

The conference also must formally approve the championship game and decide whether to stage it at a neutral site or on the campus of the team with the best record. While a neutral site creates the possibility of empty seats, a campus game has its own logistical problems with the location possibly not being known until a week before the championship.

"We're getting a lot of expressions of interest for venues throughout the conference," Scott said. "We have a lot of great choices. We haven't started evaluating any of the venues yet."

Scott also says the CEOs have to vote on whether to keep a nine-game football schedule. He said there's a "strong bias" to keep that schedule but there needs to be a vote.