MILLBRAE, Calif. - After going 75 minutes into overtime Wednesday, Pac-10 athletic directors emerged from a small conference room appearing closer to a more balanced revenue sharing model.
Of all the weighty issues facing the soon-to-expand conference this week, including how to draw up football divisions and where to place a football championship game, there has been particular intrigue with revenue sharing because its current appearance-based model is much more lucrative for the traditional powers than it is for the smaller-market schools.
Yet after Wednesday's nonstop meeting, which slid past a scheduled 5 p.m. ending and into the dinner hour, body language and words suggested that there could be some traction.
"The spirit has been terrific," Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said. "Everyone's very focused on the big picture and the exciting future that we've got."
Even USC athletic director Pat Haden, whose football program benefits the most from the appearance-based formula, indicated he had some level of buy-in.
"We're part of the conference, and we're going to do what's best for the conference," Haden said.
In order to keep schools such as USC happy, the Pac-10 may transition gradually to a one-twelfth revenue split and/or offer other concessions. Currently, each football team participating in televised games receives over 30 percent of the revenue, while the other eight teams split the rest.
Scott said the league's athletic directors, whose recommendations will be forwarded to school presidents and chancellors for their vote Oct. 21, said they "continued to make very good progress" with revenue sharing.
As the league's ADs spilled quickly out of their conference room Wednesday, both Scott and Arizona AD Greg Byrne joked about the amiable atmosphere.
"You'll be very disappointed about the smiles coming out," Scott said.
Byrne had one of them.
"Another writer wrote that a cage match might break out," Byrne said. "That didn't happen."
No matter what it decides, the new Pac-12 will have plenty of reason to be happy. It is expected to more than double its current $53 million media-rights deal starting in 2012, and each school could receive an estimated $14.5 million a year from the conference - about $6million more than UA received last year.
But that new revenue stream includes a championship football game, which has created more difficult decisions. The NCAA requires conferences to split into divisions in order to hold a game, straining relationships between conference schools that have faced each other for decades.
The Pac-10 is considering a geographical split - possibly with the California and Arizona schools together - and "zipper" or hybrid models that aim to keep rivals together and give everyone equal access to the Southern California schools.
Scott has supported a simple format but said the conference "hasn't ruled out" a zipper plan. It is also possible that a firm consensus won't be reached - or at least known - until Oct. 21.
"I don't know if we'll narrow it down any more publicly," Byrne said.
On the championship game issue, Scott said the league is not evaluating potential fixed sites yet but instead is looking at home sites versus fixed sites in general.
Meanwhile, down the hallway, the conference's senior women's administrators met Wednesday having all but settled their recommendations in scheduling for the new conference. The athletic directors, women's directors and faculty athletic representatives from each school will gather today.
UA senior associate AD Rocky LaRose said softball would be the most impacted in a new, nine-team Pac-12. Teams would have to play an eight-week league schedule with one midweek series in order to accommodate Utah and the resulting bye its addition will necessitate. Colorado does not have softball or baseball.
LaRose also said:
• Women's basketball likely will follow what men's basketball does with its 18-game format, which will feature each team facing four schools only once a season but could have a five- or 10-year cycle of rotations.
• Volleyball will keep a its current format, making room for the four extra matches by playing an extra weekend of conference matches and squeezing the rivalry matches on the Tuesday before full league play and during Thanksgiving weekend.
• In baseball, the league will merely swap Utah for Cal, which dropped the sport last week.