SALT LAKE CITY (Sports Network) - Utah announced at a press conference Thursday it has agreed to join the Pac-10 Conference.
The move is the second addition to the Pac-10 this year, following Colorado's
defection from the Big 12. The Pac-10 issued an invite to the Utes on
Wednesday in the wake of Monday's snub by Big 12 powers Texas and Oklahoma,
among others. The league was hoping to establish a 16-team mega conference,
but will settle for 12, at least for now.
Utah President Michael Young publicly signed the invitation at Thursday's
press conference held at Rice-Eccles Stadium and delivered it directly to
Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott, who was on hand for the announcement.
"The addition of the University of Utah as the Conference's 12th member
continues to strengthen the Pac-10's goals of becoming the country's leader in
college athletics," said Scott. "The University of Utah is a great academic
and athletic fit, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Pac-10."
Utah's leaving the Mountain West Conference likely puts a kink in the league's
hopes of landing a long-coveted automatic BCS bowl berth. The MWC landed Boise
State from the Western Athletic Conference last week, but now loses one of its
highest-standing members in Utah.
"I have no doubt that, speaking for the entire University of Utah family, we
could not be more pleased to accept the invitation to join the Pac-10," said
Young. "The University of Utah will be a great contributor to an already great
conference and this will be tremendous both academically and athletically for
Utah and Colorado are the first additions to the Pac-10 since Arizona and
Arizona State joined in 1978 to expand what was then known as the Pacific-8
Conference. Other conference members include USC, UCLA, Washington, Washington
State, Oregon, Oregon State, California and Stanford.
There exists a rich athletic history on both sides of Thursday's merger. The
Pac-10 has more NCAA championships than any other collegiate conference with
390. Utah's football program is on the rise having gone undefeated in 2008
with a 13-0 record.
It didn't have a chance to play for the national championship, though, due in
part to its affiliation with the Mountain West Conference. It ended the
season ranked second in the nation in the AP Poll after knocking off Alabama
in the Sugar Bowl. Utah has the longest active bowl winning streak in the
nation at nine games.
In addition, the men's basketball team is among the top-15 in all-time wins
alongside both UCLA and Washington.
Utah is the only school in NCAA history to produce No. 1 draft picks in the
NFL and NBA in the same year. Quarterback Alex Smith was taken with the first
pick of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers in 2005. Two months
later center Andrew Bogut was taken first overall in the NBA Draft by the