Sun City, Ariz.—Ending a decade-long courtship, the University of Phoenix Online has ditched cyberspace for the Pac-10, rejecting more lucrative offers from the Sun Belt Conference, Big Ten and meetup.com.
The decision comes nearly two years after the construction of University of Phoenix Stadium, when the school realized it had no athletic program.
"I hope you're ready, 'cause you're going down," University of Phoenix president Bill Pepicello said in a comment on Pete Carroll's blog moments after the announcement was made.
Despite the move, UOP Online has yet to hire a coaching staff or recruit players, although "Division I Football" has been added to the drop down menu on the university's website.
Sources close to UOP administration indicated that the school is looking for an existing collegiate head coach who has a high-speed Internet connection and is able to administer team practice one night a week.
UOP's decision came as a surprise to Big Ten Conference commissioner James Delany, according to a statement he made to the Park Ridge Daily News on Monday.
"We were really, really hoping to add a 12th team to the Big Ten," said Delany. "Not so much that we'd be able to have a conference championship, because we all know seeing Ohio State and Michigan play two weeks in a row every year would become tiresome, especially to the Michigan fans, but because eleven is such a random number."
UOP Online will begin conference play on Sept. 20 against Arizona State, who gladly canceled its non-conference match up against an SEC team to accommodate UOP's late entrance.