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Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is in Salt Lake City for the first "Front Porch Summit," a gathering of conference presidents and athletic directors to discuss athletics and academic issues facing the conference.
But even with a view of the Wasatch mountains facing Scott as he met with media members Thursday at the Natural History Museum of Utah, it was China which seemed to be very much on his mind.
Part of Scott's driving force behind the two-day gathering of officials is to address topics such as the development of the league's TV networks and academics, but he also wants to brainstorm ways to get the conference's universities more global attention.
He sees China as a fertile ground in which to push that initiative and envisions teams from all sports playing in the country in the next few years to gain exposure for Pac-12 schools.
Scott recently visited the country to meet with officials to discuss the possibility of playing games in the country and hired a conference assistant to focus on overseas development.
"There is a natural connection there with the Pac-12 and it's leading research institutions in the Western United States," he said of China. "We look at it as the gateway to the Pacific Rim, and we already have a large population of Asian students and alumni, so there is a very natural connection."
Scott said he doesn't envision regular-season games taking place in China in the immediate future due to travel and time demands on athletics during the academic year, but believes there are other opportunities that exist during the summer months.
"We can do tournaments and festivals and direct competition with foreign teams," he said. "Those are the things we will focus on first."
Closer to home, Scott said the development of the league's TV network system remains a priority. The network will feature a national channel as well as six regional ones which, combined with the league's $3 billion deal with FOX and ESPN, will bring the league a level of exposure few imagined possible.
All football games will be televised nationally, more than 130 men's basketball games will televised on the Pac-12 networks and another 500 to 600 Olympic sports will be broadcast on the networks, Scott said.
"We can't overstate how dramatic an increase it is going to be as a result of the platforms and in terms of our networks," Scott said. "It's still a work in progress, but we are moving faster than fast."
Scott said the University of Utah volunteered to host this summit and noted the addition of Utah to the league has been a seamless fit.
"Competitively there are new rivalries and matchups and energies and excitements," he said.
While the Pac-12 is known as the "Conference of Champions," for its athletic success, Scott, who this week received a contract extension through 2016, believes the conference can use its athletic success to expand its reputation. Brainstorming ideas in which to do so is an objective for him, he said.
"We are trying to broaden that perspective and think of our institutions as creating champions of life in society in general," he said.