The University of Idaho is seeking the State Board of Education's blessing to accept a football-only invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference, Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear told the Idaho Statesman on Monday.
The board is expected to hold a special meeting this week to consider the request.
Idaho would join the Sun Belt for the 2014 season. The Vandals' other sports teams are joining the Big Sky Conference on July 1, 2014.
Idaho will play the 2013 football season as an independent after its conference home since 2005, the Western Athletic Conference, fell apart. The Vandals' other teams will remain in the WAC for the 2013-14 season.
Spear has said repeatedly that independence is not a long-term option for the football program.
"It's a sense of relief," Spear said. "We have a lot of work to do to get this program where it needs to be facility-wise. This is a positive step for sure. We have a heck of a lot of work to do."
Idaho was a member of the Sun Belt in football from 2001 to 2005.
Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson told the Statesman earlier on Monday that the conference had not extended any invitations. The league is currently slated to have eight football-playing members in 2014.
ESPN.com reported earlier in the day that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State powers in the Football Championship Subdivision will join the Sun Belt.
It was just last year that the Sun Belt opted to stop expanding and stay with 10 football-playing members and 12 overall members. But more defections (Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State) and a changing landscape have changed the league's thinking.
College football is moving to a four-team playoff in 2014. The highest-ranked conference champion from the soon-to-be-renamed Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt is assured of a spot in one of the top-tier bowls.
"Now a football championship game takes on a little different flavor or color in that the postseason has changed," Benson said. "Come 2014, the Sun Belt may be one of the only conferences that isn't doing a football championship game."
Idaho is expected to be joined by fellow WAC outcast New Mexico State in the 12-team Sun Belt.
Along with Idaho and New Mexico State, the Western Division of the Sun Belt will include Arkansas State, Texas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe. The Eastern Division would be Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky.