The 1998 NCAA men's basketball national championship game could've been Kentucky vs. Deseret.
In 1850, just three years after Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake valley, the General Assembly of the State of Deseret (a temporary state that encompassed parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming but was not recognized by the United States government) established the University of Deseret.
After financial issues, lack of facilities and repeated closures, the university finally found stability in the late 1860's. After finally finding stability in the late 1890s, it was renamed the University of Utah.
Here are other names of current universities that you didn't know existed, including one of the longest names in American higher-education history.
State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg
Current Name: James Madison University
Yes, an eight-word university once existed.
In 1908, Virginia governor Claude A. Swanson signed a bill that allowed for the creation of a higher-education institution in Harrisonburg, a small town of about 4,000 residents in northwestern Virginia. The school opened a year later but the long name only lasted until 1914, when it was shortened, albeit only slightly, to the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg.
It was renamed again in 1938, this time to James Madison University in honor of James Madison, a Virginia native and the fourth President of the United States.
Current Name: Rutgers University
Rutgers is the eighth-oldest university in the United States and one of only a handful that existed prior to the American Revolution.
Founded in 1766 as a private institution with "Dutch theological roots", it was named Queen's College after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of King George III and the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1761-1801). Six decades later, in 1825, the school was renamed Rutgers College in honor of Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War colonel and university philanthropist.
"College" was dropped in the mid-1900's in favor of "University".
Henry Kendall College
Current Name: University of Tulsa
In 1894 the Presbyterian School for Girls, a small private school in Muskogee, Oklahoma, was expanded into a higher-education university. It was renamed the Henry Kendall College in honor of Reverend Henry Kendall, the late general secretary and missionary.
By 1907, poor attendance and financial issues were hampering the school, forcing a move to Tulsa, where a new campus was built and they eventually merged with McFarlin College. In 1921, it was renamed the University of Tulsa.
Current Name: Xavier University
Bishop Edward Fenwick of Cincinnati wished to create the first Catholic university in both Ohio and the entire Northwest Territory. The Athenaeum opened its doors in October 1831 but the name only lasted until 1840, when Jesuits took over the school and renamed it St. Xavier College in honor of St. Francis Xavier, a member of the Society of Jesus.
It remained St. Xavier College until 1930, when the board of trustees and state of Ohio changed the name to Xavier University. Interestingly, The Anthenaeum still exists as the seminary for the Archdiocese of CIncinnati.
Florida Military and Collegiate Institute
Current Name: Florida State University
The history of Florida State University is long and complicated. With numerous name changes and 19th-century absorption of multiple schools, including the Tallahassee Female Academy and Tallahassee College of Medicine and Surgery, FSU's history is fascinating.
During the Civil War, the institution known as the West Florida Seminary began conducting military training, causing the state legislature to change their name to thee Florida Military and Collegiate Institute. After a slew of more changes — ones that also contributed to the forming of present-day University of Florida — the school officially became Florida State University in 1947.