Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
LOGAN — Utah State may be the next school to jump from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West, according to sources.
School officials from the Mountain West Conference are meeting in Las Vegas today and tomorrow and are expected to vote on several conference issues ranging from TV deals, to scheduling, to conference expansion. The conference has been looking at expanding from 10 schools to 12 in order to secure a lucrative conference football championship game. Adding a conference championship game could add millions of dollars of revenue to the conference in the form of a TV deal and ticket sales. If the money gained from the championship game offsets the money lost by splitting the revenue sharing between an additional two schools, then the conference is likely to expand.
The final vote for expansion was expected to take place Monday night. Sources said prior to the vote that expansion was likely and Utah State would then likely be asked to join and would accept the offer. No exact timetable was given for the announcement, but it is expected to be official in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Utah State has been on the Mountain West's radar since last August when the conference put in a call to gauge the school's interest in jumping ship from the WAC. Since then, current conference members Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii have all made it known they will be leaving the conference effective July 2012.
Utah State makes for an attractive option for the Mountain West for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows the Mountain West to retain a presence in the Salt Lake television market after both BYU and Utah left last summer. The Aggies also bring in an improving football program, quality facilities and a consistently strong basketball program.
The Mountain West would give Utah State a stable conference home for the foreseeable future and would reunite them with current and past rivals like Boise State, UNLV, and Wyoming.
All requests for an official comment from the University or the Mountain West conference were not immediately returned.
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