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Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
LAS VEGAS — Add one more sporting event to the ticket in Las Vegas.
The Pac-12 women's basketball tournament is moving to Vegas for the next two years at least, league commissioner Larry Scott announced Thursday.
Scott said the women's basketball tournament, which has been played at KeyArena in Seattle since 2013, will be played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2019 and at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2020.
The Pac-12 men's and women's tournaments will still be played a week apart, with the women's tournament taking place the week before the men's tourney.
"This will give us an opportunity to showcase the best of Pac-12 men's basketball and women's basketball over a two-week period," Scott said during a press conference at T-Mobile Arena.
The women's tournament was contracted through 2019 at KeyArena, but a $600 million renovation of the facility led to the move.
Mandalay Bay is where the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces will play their games, with the team's inaugural season in Vegas in 2018.
"They have a commitment to women's basketball with the WNBA. And needless to say, a lot of exciting things are going on here in the world of sports and entertainment," Scott said.
Since 2002, the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament has also been held in Eugene, Oregon, San Jose, California and Los Angeles prior to moving to Seattle for the past six years.
Scott also announced that the men's tournament has extended its agreement to stay at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas for another year, through 2020. The men's tournament has been played in Las Vegas since 2013, including the past two years at T-Mobile Arena.
UPDATE ON PAC-12 TASK FORCE: Scott also talked about the Pac-12 task force, which was announced in October on the heels of the FBI's NCAA investigation and built to look at issues surrounding youth basketball and recruiting.
Scott said the task force has "produced a set of findings and recommendations that I've had a chance to share informally with the NCAA commission" and that will be formally shared with the directors of the Pac-12, including chancellors and presidents, on Saturday. Scott said it's anticipated the findings will be released once they have the chance to receive feedback.
Scott told the media he could not share specifics, but there are four "baskets" of recommendations as a part of the findings: first, relating to NCAA eligibility and the NBA's one-and-done rule; second, to recruiting rules with the intent to get college coaches further removed from the AAU system and private promoters; third, recommending liberalized rules for when players and family can have access to agents; and fourth, relating to NCAA enforcement.
"The FBI allegations and the revelations from the U.S. Attorney's Office have certainly brought into focus some of the challenges the NCAA and their enforcement apparatus have," said Scott, while mentioning it's been a "wake-up call" for leaders in college sports.
CAN I GET A LITTLE RESPECT: The Pac-12 is no stranger to having its programs make noise in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, four teams reached the NCAAs, with three advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and Oregon making the Final Four.
This year, the league is struggling with the perception that the parity — six teams finished within two games of each other from the No. 2 to No. 7 spots in the regular- season standings — could cost the Pac-12 on Selection Sunday. Teams like Utah, USC, UCLA and Washington still sit on the bubble heading into the weekend.
"Obviously it still depends on some of what's going to happen here. But this has been a year for us where teams have really beat each other up a lot. It's been pretty wide open," Scott said. "I try not to overreact to any one year. I try to look at the trajectory, the growth, the trends, and I think Pac-12 men's basketball is in a very strong place."
The commissioner saw the parity as a strong point for his conference.
"I think on balance, as I look at their resumes, I think we'll get quite a few in," Scott said.
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