Cougs get two HUGE wins out of Pac-10

PAC-10 Commissioner Larry Scott delivered music to the ears of Washington State on Thursday with the announcement that conference TV revenue would be split equally among the schools starting in 2012. In addition, he said the four Northwest schools would join Cal and Stanford in forming the north division of the new Pac-12.

WSU athletic director Bill Moos had been pushing for equal sharing of TV revenue, which most of the major conferences already do. This decision, coupled with a lucrative new TV deal the conference is expected to cut in the next year, could mean anywhere from $8 million to $12 million annually for WSU.

For perspective on the impact it means on the Palouse, consider that WSU now receives about $4 million annually from football and basketball TV revenue. And the school's entire athletic department budget is $30 million.

This is the second massive boost to WSU's revenue outlook in recent days. On Monday WSU announced that it had reached agreement with ISP Sports on a multi-year deal that provides ISP with numerous sales and marketing opportunities surrounding Cougar sporting events and venues. The 10-year pact will bring $35.6 million to Washington State athletics.

AS FOR THE NEW REVENUE-SHARING plan in the conference, it contains an interesting footnote: In any year where media revenues fall below $170 million, USC and UCLA will receive an extra $2 million in compensation. As such, launching a new Pac-10 network figures to be key to cresting that level. Currently, the Pac-10 garners less than $60 million annually from its TV rights deal.

For comparison purposes, the Big Ten takes in about $214 million.

SCOTT ALSO ANNOUNCED THURSDAY that league presidents, with advice from their athletic directors, voted unanimously to split the Pac-12 into north and south divisions. Under this arrangement, the Northwest school rivalries stay intact while maintaining a consistent presence for those schools in the talent-rich California market.

Moos had been pushing for that very arrangement. The divisions, which take effect next fall, apply to football and no other sports.

Each school will play everyone in its division each year, plus four schools from the other division. That nine-game conference schedule will leave room for three out-of-conference games. To avoid a major objection from the California schools, those four teams will play each other every year even though they'll be in opposite divisions.

In addition, by playing four cross-division games each year, the Northwest schools will be able to get to Los Angeles for games on an every other year basis. That's important because the L.A. Basin is a huge market for both recruits and alums.

"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.

"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," 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."

NOTABLE:

  • The champions of the north and south football divisions will play a title game at season's end. It will be held at the home field of the No. 1 seed.

  • Scott said revenue sharing would begin in 2012-13, and that if total revenues fall under $170 million in a calendar year thay both USC and UCLA -- as owners of the league's largest marketplace -- would receive an additional $2 million.

  • Basketball teams will still play an 18-game conference schedule with locked in home-and-home games with traditional rivals. Each team will rotate home-and-home with six teams, with rotating single play with four teams.

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