Utah State and San Jose State are expected to join the Mountain West Conference in all sports for the 2013-14 season, a source with knowledge of the talks said Sunday.
The source did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. No official invitation has been extended to either school.
A formal announcement, however, could be made in the coming days. The Mountain West meets in Phoenix this week to discuss its impending merger/alliance with Conference USA.
Both schools are members of the Western Athletic Conference, which appears to be on its last legs. The WAC recently lost Texas-San Antonio to Conference USA, and Louisiana Tech reportedly is close to making the same move.
Should the WAC fall apart, one question becomes what happens to Boise State's nonfootball sports. The Broncos are poised to move those sports to the WAC and its football program to the Big East Conference in 2013. The Mountain West's position is Boise State will not be accepted back into the league if football isn't part of the package.
Adding Utah State and San Jose State further protects the Mountain West against future membership changes. In addition to Boise State, San Diego State plans to leave for the Big East in football in 2013 and the Big West Conference in its other sports. Texas Christian takes its entire athletic department to the Big 12 Conference after this season.
UNR and Fresno State join the Mountain West beginning this fall, and Hawaii will become a football-only member.
Unless more changes occur - and recent history has proven the landscape can change quickly - the two newest additions will bring the Mountain West's membership to nine in all sports and 10 in football in 2013.
Bringing those schools into the fold could further signal the Mountain West and Conference USA will form more of a partnership than a full merger.
If that's the case, the conferences could share TV rights and coordinate schedules but retain separate identities so that each side doesn't lose an NCAA automatic bid in the various sports.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.