published Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Pac-12 Conference decides it won't expand further

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By ANTONIO GONZALEZ, AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO —The Pac-12 Conference is just dandy at a dozen.

The league's presidents and chancellors voted late Tuesday night to reaffirm their decision to stay at 12 members. While Commissioner Larry Scott called some proposals "financially attractive," there was overwhelming support from member schools to hold off on further expansion.

At least for the foreseeable future.

"After careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference," Scott said. "While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve."

The primarily West Coast league will remain just that.

Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were among those considering a potential move from the Big 12 after Texas A&M applied for membership to the Southeastern Conference. Instead, the Pac-12 decided not to give them the chance.

After all, the league had little incentive to expand.

Unless Texas dropped its exclusive rights to the Longhorn Network and agreed to an equal-revenue sharing plan that the league adopted this year, there simply wasn't enough money to generate support from Pac-12 officials. Not to mention the long distances, travel costs and regional rivalries that such a megaconference would create.

Scott entertained the idea of a 16-team conference a year ago but backed off when Texas turned him down.

The Pac-10, as it was known then, decided to add Utah from the Mountain West and Colorado from the Big 12. The move allowed the conference to hold a league championship game — which it will do for the first time this year — and generate more leverage in upcoming television negotiations.

Scott negotiated a landmark 12-year television contract this summer with Fox and ESPN worth about $3 billion. While that deal could have been amended with new members, it clearly wasn't good enough to convince the league to expand again.

Scott had publicly maintained for weeks that, unlike last year, the league wasn't seeking new members but would listen to proposals.

"We haven't spent one minute thinking about going further, that's not our desire," Scott said in Tempe, Ariz., before the Arizona State-Missouri game Sept. 9.

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