SALT LAKE CITY — It'll soon be official. After lengthy speculation, the Pac-10 has extended a membership offer to the University of Utah. A formal announcement is set for Utah's Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday. The public is invited to attend the 12:30 p.m. gathering, set for the sixth floor at the Rice-Eccles Stadium Tower.
The only item on the agenda is the "discussion of athletic conference," which will be presented to the board for its approval.
A news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m.
After efforts by Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott to lure Big 12 members Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech out West failed over the weekend, various media reports targeted Utah as the institution most likely to join Colorado (a Big 12 defector) in the expanded conference.
Although Scott's hopes of establishing a 16-school superconference failed to materialize, the so-called Pac-12 now has enough teams to hold a lucrative football championship game — something the NCAA allows for leagues with at least 12 members.
Beginning as early as 2011, the Utes will compete for such an opportunity against the Colorado Buffaloes, as well as Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State.
The Utes will reportedly be placed in the Southern Division with Arizona, ASU, Colorado, UCLA and USC.
Utah's decision to leave the Mountain West Conference, where it has competed since 1999, is accompanied by hefty financial rewards. Membership in the Bowl Championship Series league is expected to raise the Utes' television revenue from $1.2 million per year in the MWC to possibly $10 million or more.
Recruiting is also expected to get a boost with increased exposure nationally and in large Pac-12 markets like Los Angeles, Oakland/San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle and Denver.
In addition, Rice-Eccles Stadium is expected to be expanded and the locker room facilities upgraded.
As far as competing, Utah has fared well in football against the Pac-10 in recent years.
Since the Urban Meyer/Whittingham era began in 2003, the Utes are 7-3 (5-0 at home, 1-3 on the road and 1-0 in bowl games) against Pac-10 competition. In doing so, they've outscored their future leaguemates by a 251-214 margin.
Utah is 2-0 against both Arizona and California and 1-1 against Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA during that span. Overall, the Utes are 76-120-6 all time against current and future members of the Pac-10. They haven't faced Colorado since 1962 and Washington since 1979. Other not-so-recent meetings include Arizona State (1993), Stanford (1996), USC (2001) and Washington State (2000).
In men's basketball, Utah is 146-112 all time against the 11 other teams that will make up the conference. The Utes hold advantages over Arizona (28-21), Arizona State (25-17), Stanford (14-7), Oregon (8-7), Oregon State (12-7) and Washington State (13-2). They're even against California (8-8) and UCLA (4-4) and hold losing records against Colorado (20-15), USC (15-14) and Washington (5-6).
Projected Pac-12 divisions