Speculation is mounting that Utah will soon be invited to join the Pac-10. Comcast SportsNet in the Bay Area, for one, is reporting that it's a done deal.
"The Pacific-10 Conference will extend an invitation to the University of Utah to become the league's 12th team, Comcast SportsNet has learned exclusively from sources close to the situation," read the Internet report. "A press conference is expected to formalize the announcement on Wednesday."
Officials from the Mountain West Conference and the U., however, won't confirm it.
"We do not have an announcement or press conference planned at this time," Utah associate athletics director Liz Abel said Tuesday evening.
After the Comcast report was posted, she held to her previous statement.
Utah president Michael Young did not return phone calls by the Deseret News Tuesday evening asking about Utah and its possible inclusion into the Pac-10.
So goes the saga of what many feel is a formality for Utah.
A Southern California source said at USC's trustees meeting Tuesday, they were told that the Pac-10 had authorized the negotiation of an offer to Utah. Everything is solid from the conference's standpoint and was subject only to Utah's agreement on terms.
Utah has been in a holding pattern ever since five Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech) declined invitations to join the Pac-10 on Monday.
It opened the door and media projections that Utah would be invited to join Big 12 defector Colorado as newcomers to the league. The additions would give the conference 12 teams — including Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State — to meet the NCAA minimum required to have a financially lucrative championship game.
Utah's immediate future, though, is somewhat uncertain.
Sources at MWC headquarters and the University of Utah denied the story.
So, too, did MWC commissioner Craig Thompson, who was attending a conference in northern California. He said that Utah athletics director Chris Hill told him Monday that the university has not been contacted by the Pac-10. The Associated Press report went on to say that Thompson has not had contact with Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott since Texas and the others decided not to move west earlier in the week.
ESPN.com's Ted Miller backed the AP story.
"There are reports that Utah has already told the Mountain West Conference that it is leaving, but a source said no invitation has been extended from the Pac-10. Yet," Miller wrote. "That could change inside of 24 hours."
The Utes are charter members of the MWC. They joined Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming in forming the league in 1999. TCU joined the conference in 2005 and Boise State is slated to begin play in 2011.
Utah can leave the league after this season without any financial penalty by notifying the MWC of its intentions by Sept. 1. Colorado will reportedly have to pay a $9 million buyout to leave the Big 12.
UTAH VS. THE PAC-11
Opponent. . . . .All-time series. . . . .Most recent meeting. . . . .Notable
Arizona. . . . .19-15-2. . . . .Utes 27, Wildcats 24 (SLC, 2005). . . . .Utah has prevailed in last two matchups
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