WALNUT CREEK, Calif., -- With the 2012 London Olympics fast approaching, the Pac-10, which officially becomes the Pac-12 on July 1, will host two of its 14 Conference Championship events in 2011-12 at U.S. Olympic Trial venues, providing student-athletes throughout the Conference an opportunity to compete on world stage locations, it was announced Friday.
Hayward Field at the University of Oregon will be the site for the inaugural Pac-12 Track and Field Championships May 5-6 and 12-13, while Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, WA will host the Pac-12 Women's Swimming and Men's and Women's Diving Championships February 22-25. The venues were approved by the Pac-10 Council.
"As we enter into an Olympic year and celebrate the commitment and excellence we have in Olympic sports we thought it was important to align Pac-12 Championship events with Olympic trial locations in 2011-12," Pac-10 Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Weiberg said. "It was an excellent opportunity for us to provide our student-athletes with the unique experience of competing in venues that will be hosting these very important events with the USOC."
The Pac-12 will conduct 14 Conference Championship events during the 2011-12 school year, representing 16 sports - men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's swimming and diving, wrestling, men's and women's basketball, women's gymnastics, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, men's and women's track and field and rowing.
Pac-12 schools have won national championships in all 16 sports and in 27 of the 37 Division I sports the NCAA sponsors.
The University of Utah will host the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City March 24. No collegiate women's gymnastics program in the country draws fans like Utah does.
Aside from its 10 national championships, the Utes consistently lead the nation in attendance, including an NCAA record 14,213 fans per meet in 2010. They have averaged more than 11,000 fans per home meet for the past 21 years.
"The atmosphere in the Huntsman Center for Utah gymnastics meets is electrifying and will make the "first Pac-12 Championship a great experience for all of the teams involved," Utah Head Football Coach Kyle Whittingham said. "The noise level, enthusiasm and size of the crowds are amazing and make for an incredible environment for the student-athletes to compete in. I have personally enjoyed watching some of the best teams in the country, including our own, perform in our arena."
The first-ever Pac-12 Football Championship game will be played on the home field of the team with the best overall conference record. All other Conference Championship sites will be held in familiar locations.
Arizona State will host the Pac-12 cross country championships (Oct. 29), Boise State hosts the wrestling championships (Feb. 23), men's swimming will be held at Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif., (Feb. 29-Mar. 3), men's and women's tennis will be played in Ojai, Calif. (Apr. 26-29), women's golf travels to Pullman, Wash. (Apr. 27-29), men's golf shifts to Corvallis, Ore. (Apr. 27-29) and rowing will take place in Lake Natoma, Calif. (May 13).
The Pac-12 will again host a joint men's and women's basketball tournament in Los Angeles, Calif. (Mar. 7-10). The first two rounds of the women's tournament will be played in the Galen Center at USC, while the semifinals and finals will be played in the Staples Center. All four rounds of the men's bracket will be played in the Staples Center.
In June, Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center will play host to its second U.S. Olympic Diving Trials, while this will be the fifth time the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials will take place at Hayward Field.
"Commissioner Scott and the Council have demonstrated great foresight in aligning the conference championships with the 2012 Olympic Trials' venues," Oregon's Director of Track and Field Vin Lananna said. "Hayward Field is the heart of track and field in this country and we will create a great environment for the student-athletes who come to Eugene to compete for the inaugural Pac-12 championship next year."