SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Pac-12 Conference helped put the University of Utah on the map as far as big-time athletics go. So leaving the conference after 13 years for the Big 12 will be truly bittersweet.

“Of course it’s bittersweet,” said Utah athletic director Mark Harlan. “It would be disingenuous for me to say that. There may be time to reflect weeks and months from now, but there’s the sweet part too. There is excitement for what’s ahead.”

The Pac-12 desperately tried to keep the conference together with a media rights deal with Apple TV, but the numbers just didn’t add up. After Colorado left a couple weeks ago for the Big 12, Oregon and Washington bolted for the Big Ten, while Arizona, Arizona State and Utah left for the Big 12 on Friday.

“I felt honestly that every school in this league took time, and weren’t rash in their decisions in trying to hold this league together,” said University of Utah president Taylor Randall. “Ultimately the dynamics of collegiate sports and media markets bring us to where we are today.”

Now, the Utes stand to earn almost 32 million dollars per year with the Big 12 Conference’s television deal with ESPN and Fox.

“The thing I’m most excited about with this television dynamic that we go into is it’s obviously with two of the major providers in Fox and ESPN,” Harlan said. “It always will have streaming to it, and I think that’s very important for folks to know that although primary linear is certainly where we’re headed, there will be streaming because that’s the way it’s going.”

For the first time since 2010, Utah and BYU are in the same conference again. Next year’s football game, originally scheduled for September, could be moved to the end of the year. But The Utes and Cougars will instantly become the best rivalry in the Big 12.

“The renewed rivalry with Brigham Young University, for me it’s always been fun,” Randall said. “We’re looking forward to that. We’ve appreciated the way we’ve worked together over the years when we’ve not been in the same conference. We’re certainly looking forward to the years that we will be.”

But Utah still has one year left in the Pac-12, and they plan to go out on top in several sports, where it will defend titles in football, women’s basketball, softball and gymnastics.

“The Pac-12 experience for the University of Utah, it changed this university,” Harlan said. “It’s been a special, special ride. We are so excited about this last lap ahead. There are so many championships we have to defend.”

Utah will begin play in the Big 12 Conference in all sports starting in the Fall of 2024.