It looks like conference expansion is finally over.
Both Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson and Pacific 10 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott today said their respective conferences are not looking to grow past nine and 12 member institutions.
However, that might not finish so favorably for the MWC.
The MWC took a major hit today when the University of Utah officially accepted its invitation to join the Pac-10.
According to Scott, Utah will begin play in the Pac-10 starting in the 2011-2012 academic year. This will affect all Utah sports teams.
The MWC is currently in the middle of a four-year trial period with the Bowl Championship Series, which is scheduled to end following the 2011 football season. The conference has sent Utah and TCU to the BCS in the first two seasons of the trial period, but the Utes’ victory in the 2009 Sugar Bowl over Alabama will not count in the MWC’s favor as they will leave the conference before the 2011 season.
According to Thompson, while Utah’s success won’t favor the conference, Boise State, who will begin play as a Mountain West member in 2011, and its national prominence, including a BCS victory over TCU in January’s Fiesta Bowl, will help.
Still, Thompson said that Boise State’s entrance to the MWC doesn’t completely replace what Utah did.
Thompson also added that roughly 10 schools contacted the MWC about becoming members.
“There wasn’t a school we wanted but couldn’t get,” Thompson said via teleconference this afternoon.
Utah will not suffer a financial penalty for leaving the MWC, as the league is one of four in the country that don’t a monetary leash on its institutions should they choose to leave. Both the University of Colorado and Nebraska are facing multi-million dollar penalties for leaving the Big 12.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.