The Pac-10 invited Utah to become the conference’s 12th member on Wednesday, two days after being turned down by Texas, Oklahoma and three other Big 12 schools.
School officials did not immediately say whether the invitation would be accepted, but it would be shocking if the Utes didn’t leave the Mountain West Conference for the Pac-10.
The school’s board of trustees will meet Thursday to discuss the school’s conference affiliation. A news conference was scheduled at the football stadium following the meeting.
Utah has been a member of the MWC since the league began in 1999 — and one of its most successful in football and basketball.
There had been speculation on Tuesday that Utah would be the next school to be approached by the Pac-10. When asked about the possibility, school president Michael Young told The Associated Press “we wouldn’t anticipate making a move of this magnitude without the concurrence of our board of trustees.
A message left with Randy Dryer, chairman of the board of trustees, was not immediately returned Wednesday. If Utah bolts the Mountain West, it would be the latest in a string of conference affiliation changes.
Last week, Colorado decided to leave the Big 12 and accept an invitation to join the Pac-10. Nebraska has also said it will leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten, while Boise State is fleeing the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West.
The Mountain West called a news conference for Thursday following Utah’s.
Earlier in the week, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State recommitted to the Big 12 instead of hopping to the Pac-10.
That left the Pac-10 in need of another member to reach the 12 required to hold a football championship game.
Utah officials have long been frustrated about their inability to play for a national title while in the Mountain West. Utah had an undefeated season in 2008 but was not invited to the national title game. It defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Under the Bowl Championship Series, the champions of six conference have automatic bids to play in top-tier bowl games, while the other conferences such as the Mountain West don’t. Those six conferences also receive more money than the other conferences.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, angered that the Utes were denied an opportunity to play for a national title, has said he’s investigating the BCS for possible antitrust violations. It was unclear if the investigation would continue if Utah changed conferences.
A message left with Shurtleff was not immediately returned.
Utah lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, have also expressed their frustrations with the BCS.
Last year, the state legislature adopted a resolution calling for a playoff system to determine college football’s national champion after an undefeated Utah was shut out of the national title game for the second time in four years.
Utah’s lawmakers contend the BCS formula is flawed and gives schools from the major conferences an unfair advantage that would make it impossible for a school like the Mountain West’s Brigham Young to win the national title, as the Cougars did in 1984.
Washington State has a bit of a history with the Utes. The two teams have met 10 times on the football field and won five each. They have each scored 273 points in those 10 matchups. The last time they met was in 2000 in Pullman, a 38-21 WSU win.
The Cougars beat the Utes in the 1992 Copper Bowl in Tucson, 31-28.