Last night the UT Board of Regents released their agenda for a meeting to take place late next week. In that agenda was specific wording toward allowing the University of Texas at San Antonio to "accept an invitation from Conference USA" and to "negotiate and finalize the terms of their conference membership".
The news that UTSA is set to join Conference USA brings about the possibility for massive expansion in the coming weeks, and possibly even sooner. The internet and twitter are filling up with rumors that C-USA is set to take North Texas, Florida International, and Louisiana Tech, along with UTSA. That would get the conference back to 12 members, and allow it to retain its conference championship game in football.
The Mountain West Conference is also largely expected to be making expansion moves in the very near future. Initial word is that Utah State is all but a lock to join the conference in the 2013-14 season. People in and out of El Paso had also expected for UTEP to move west to join the MWC, but that may not be the case after all.
Rumor has it that the MWC is looking to invite two expansion candidates, and three schools are on the board. Those would be Utah State, San Jose St., and UTEP. As already stated USU is widely expected to be the first, leaving SJSU and UTEP for the second spot. While UTEP is obviously an appealing candidate, SJSU may wind up being the choice.
The Western Athletic Conference is, and has been on life support for years now, and with the losses of Fresno St., Hawaii, Nevada, Utah St., and possibly San Jose St., that conference has likely seen its last days. So, the question might be...if SJSU is gonna be left without a home, why not just invite them to the MWC now, rather than potentially doing it later?
Of course, UTEP fans are starting feel like we don't exactly fit in with the C-USA that's now forming, and we would all love to have our old rivalries renewed with the schools from the MWC. A couple factors are in play here though. If the MWC goes to 11/12, UTEP is likely one of the schools to be invited, anything short of the 11/12 mark, and I'm just not sure.
Another factor, and potentially the most important is the collapse of MWCUSA merger. When the two conferences were set to merge, it was almost a given that UTEP would shift west as they fit in better with the "Western" schools. Without a merger though, UTEP could be subject to an exit fee from Conference USA that is said to be in the $5 million range. Can the school really afford that? Possibly, but its certainly something to consider.
A ton of people have been feeding on UTEP coach Mike Price's words this week when he was asked about conference realignment/expansion on SiriusXM Sports. CMP said something to the effect of "I think we'll be in the Mountain West when its all said and done". Now, I would venture to say that Price's words were personal opinion more than an inside scoop, but the words do offer hope for that western shift.
Whatever happens, we should all know pretty soon. It is thought that UTSA will be making its announcement in the coming days, as will Utah St. Those announcements should open up the door for the conferences to announce their exact intentions, and what schools they plan to invite. Until then, we've just got to wait. More to come on this very soon.