Ute athletic director Chris Hill ready for pace to slow down

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SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah athletics director Chris Hill is finally getting a chance to catch his breath. After a hectic week, highlighted by the Utes accepting an invitation to join the Pacific-10 Conference in 2011-12, Hill appreciates having things slow down a bit.

"I think it's a chance to step back and take a look at where we go," he said.

Planning for Utah's next move, which will follow one more athletic year in the Mountain West Conference, includes meetings with all of the department's head coaches to talk about each program.

It's a bit of a balancing act, though.

"At the same time, we've got the 2010-11 year ahead of us," Hill said. "We've got athletes who we want to make sure have a great experience, so we don't want to look beyond that."

Football coach Kyle Whittingham isn't.

At Thursday's Pac-10 announcement, he said his team would celebrate the news that day and resume focus on the season opener against Pittsburgh the next.

Hill, however, does have a lot of things to look at in the days ahead — revenue for contributions, marketing, ticket sales, etc.

And he won't exactly have extra bags of cash to throw at every issue.

Although the conference switch will eventually become financially lucrative, the Utes will not become full revenue-sharing members of the league for three years.

"For the next two years, we are kind of where we are," Hill said. "So it's not like all of a sudden we had the Brinks truck pull up and dump a bunch of resources with us."

So part of the plan, he explained, is to get each team at Utah headed in a direction necessary for the future.

"Many are," Hill said. "But some are going to have more challenges than others."

It's all part of the process and nothing that has dampened excitement up on the hill. A positive vibe is permeating.

"It's been such a positive experience in how our university community has reacted outside of athletics. They're real excited about it for some of the things it may bring them. And also the community in general is so excited about it," Hill said. "Those are two things that I knew would happen. But not to the extent they are."

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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