by Ralph Routon
It's official: The University of Colorado has negotiated an agreement with officials of the Big 12 Conference, allowing CU to exit the Big 12 after the current academic year and move to what will be known as the Pacific 12 Conference starting in the fall of 2011.
Colorado and Utah will make it the Pac-12 next year, meaning two divisions for football and a league championship game in December.
CU agreed to forfeit more than $6 million of its TV revenues from the Big 12 during the current 2011-12 school year as part of the agreement. The university expects to recoup most if not all of that lost money when the Pac-12 (which it will call itself starting next year) negotiates new TV contracts for football and basketball with the added value of 12 members and a football championship game.
The Big 12 already has approved football schedules for next year with 10 members (instead of 11, with Nebraska leaving next fall for the Big Ten).
Colorado's Board of Regents met Tuesday night to approve the deal for changing leagues in 2011. Initially, CU was on the hook to stay in the Big 12 another year because its announcement of changing conferences came after a deadline to give notice to the Big 12 of its plans for 2011.
This will mean a new football schedule for CU, which actually has 13 games on its agenda for 2011 because of a season-opening Sept. 3 trip to Hawaii. Any teams traveling to Hawaii are allowed to play an extra regular-season game to recoup the extra expense.
CU already has scheduled a Sept. 10 home game against California, which could become the Buffs' conference opener. Other planned non-league games include Colorado State at Denver (on Sept. 17), Ohio State at Columbus on Sept. 24 and Fresno State at Boulder on Oct. 8.
There has been all kinds of speculation about how the Pac-12 will split its divisions. Recent rumors have suggested the four California schools (Southern Cal, UCLA, California and Stanford) want to stay in the same division or at least play each other every year. Same with the foursome of Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State.
If that happens, then Colorado and Utah could go to either group, with Arizona and Arizona State on the other side. CU officials have made it clear they strongly prefer being in the same division as Southern Cal and UCLA because so many Colorado alumni either came from or now live in Southern California. But Arizona and Arizona State might be given the first choice.