University officials agreed in June to move CU to the Pacific-10 Conference within the next two years, which means that for the first time since 1947 the Buffs no longer will be in the same conference as Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Iowa State.
School leaders feel the Pac-10 is a better fit than the Big 12 in several respects, including the fact CU has a larger alumni base on the West Coast — 36,000 versus 11,000. The Pac-10, adding to its ranks for the first time since 1978, subsequently lured the University of Utah, which bolted the Mountain West Conference.
“This move is going to enhance our recruiting, enhance our ability to raise money and enhance our ability to engage our fan base and help us rise to [the Pac-10] level of competition,” says athletic director Mike Bohn.
“This is the greatest single thing that has happened to Colorado in many, many years,” former CU football coach Bill McCartney says of the conference switch. “This is a bonanza for CU.”
But there was an academic reason for the decision as well.
“It’s a fabulous conference,” CU president Bruce Benson (Geol’64, HonDocSci’04 ) says of the Pac-10. “The schools (Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Washington, Southern California, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Oregon State) in it are great. They’re the kind of schools we need to be around.”
As of Coloradan press time, details still need to be ironed out concerning the Buffs’ move to the Pac-10. CU would like to join in time for the 2011 football season but is obligated to compete in the Big 12 for two more years, Bohn says.