WALNUT CREEK, Calif., Dec. 21 -- The Pacific-10 Conference announced Wednesday that it has offered the University of Colorado an invitation for membership, a move that would bring the league up to 11 schools. Samuel H. Smith, president of Washington State University, made the announcement in a statement following a meeting of conference's chief executive officers.
'We believe Colorado is academically and athletically compatible with the members of the Pac-10 and hope it will accept our offer,' Smith said in a three-sentence statement issued by the league. Colorado currently is a member of the Big Eight Conference, which will add four teams in 1996 to become the Big 12. School officials said no comment regarding the invitation would be made at this time. 'Colorado's administration is studying the offer and we expect to receive a response when that study is concluded,' Smith said. The addition of an 11th member would be the Pac-10's first expansion since 1978, when Arizona and Arizona State were added to the fold. Other members are California, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Cal, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. The Pac-10 steadfastly remained a holdout while the other major conferences were in an expansionist mode in the early 1990s. The Big Ten added Penn State, the Southeastern Conference took on Arkansas and South Carolina and the Big East added Miami as part of forming a football conference. This year, the Big Eight voted to absorb half of the Southwest Conference, with Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech accepting invitations. Rice, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian subsequently were invited to join the Western Athletic Conference, along with Nevada- Las Vegas, San Jose State and Tulsa. Colorado has been a member of the Big Eight since 1947.