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Most Influential in Utah sports: Whittingham wields power

Coach elevated Utes in Pac-12, revived fans’ interest in program.

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No. 5 Dave Checketts

At a glance

Most Influential in Utah Sports

1. Kyle Whittingham

2. Kevin O’Connor

3. Bronco Mendenhall

4. Tom Holmoe

5. Dave Checketts

6. Chris Hill

7. Larry Scott

8. Al Jefferson

9. Greg Miller and Gail Miller

10. Scott Barnes

11. Dave Rose

12. Randy Rigby

13. Jeff Robbins

14. Tyrone Corbin

15. Jason Kreis

16. Bill Marolt

17. Sarah Hendrickson

18. Bill Manning

19. Damian Lillard

20. Rob Cuff

21. Trevor Lewis

22. Greg & Megan Marsden

23. Kaycee Feild

24. Tommy Grady

25. Mike Trout

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Real Salt Lake owner

Previous ranking » No. 5

Real Salt Lake has not won a trophy since claiming the 2009 MLS Cup, but the franchise continues to solidify itself in this market and Rio Tinto Stadium keeps hosting niche events. Checketts was deep into the process of selling the NHL’s St. Louis Blues during the past season, but his overhaul of the organization made an impact in the league. The Blues posted the second-best record in the Western Conference and won a playoff series.

No. 6 Chris Hill

Utah athletic director

Previous ranking » No. 7

Hill’s role in scheduling a home-and-home football series with Michigan and, in the process, creating a reason to interrupt the Utah-BYU rivalry for two years, bumps him one spot in 2012. He would have moved up more if not for the historic depths of the Ute men’s basketball program, coming off a 6-25 season. A potential recovery in that sport, combined with a $150 million capital campaign for athletics, will further shape Hill’s legacy.

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No. 7 Larry Scott

Pac-12 commissioner

Previous ranking » No. 1

Scott’s negotiating a $3 billion television contract with ESPN and Fox in 2011 was an achievement that’s tough to top, but this month’s launch of the Pac-12 Networks helps the University of Utah significantly. The Utes will continue to benefit from Scott’s vision in creating exposure for not only football and men’s basketball, but also other sports as well. Scott’s choice to hold the Pac-12 football championship game at a campus site makes Utah a potential host.

No. 8 Al Jefferson

Jazz center

Previous ranking » NR

Jefferson is approaching a position once held by Deron Williams, in terms of affecting the franchise’s personnel decisions. He’s the leading scorer and rebounder for a team that made the playoffs in 2011-12. Beyond that, his $15 million expiring contract makes him a symbol of how the management tandem of O’Connor and Dennis Lindsey will approach the 2013 offseason. They can try to get value in return by trading him, or use his salary cap space.

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