Pac-12 close to deciding future of hoops tourneys

BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer Published:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday the league will announce the future site of its conference basketball tournaments after a weekend meeting of university presidents and chancellors.

Scott confirmed between tournament games at Staples Center that the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was in the running to serve as host starting in 2013. Los Angeles and Seattle also are bidding.

"No decision has been made about what we're doing next year," he said. "We've been going through a very extensive request and proposal process."

The combined men's and women's event is wrapping up its 11-year run in Los Angeles on Saturday, coinciding with the end of its current television contracts.

Scott said the future of the women's tournament is under discussion, too. It has been held under several formats, including being played in a different city, in the same city but a different location from the men, and under the current configuration -- at Galen Center on the Southern California campus the first two days before joining the men at Staples for the last two.

Scott wouldn't comment on the bids, although he noted that Las Vegas already hosts three college basketball tournaments: the Mountain West on the UNLV campus, and the Western Athletic and West Coast tournaments at Orleans Arena.

"We have not thought a lot about other leagues," he said. "I think more about TV and what our TV windows would be and how they would match up."

Scott noted that more tournament games will be on television next year, when the league's new deals with ESPN and Fox kick in, and that should lead to more people watching. The first year of the deal calls for ESPN to carry the basketball tournament, while Fox will air the league's football title game. They will alternate in subsequent years. Basketball tourney games that don't air on ESPN will be shown on the new Pac-12 network, he said.

Scott said tournament attendance at Staples, often sparse for weekday games, has waxed and waned depending on the interest in particular teams.

"Evening sessions are always stronger," he said. "Obviously, we'd love a full house for every single round and we'll work toward that."

The first day's announced attendance was 6,747, although the final night game between Colorado and Utah was noticeably sparse.

The Pac-12 has struggled through a down year, with none of its basketball teams currently in the national rankings.

"There's no doubt our conference has not been at the level people are used to it being at," Scott said. "This is a bit cyclical. I've got very little worry about mid- to long-term this conference remaining one of the elite conferences."