By Chadd Cripe
© 2010 Idaho Statesman
JACKSON, Wyo. — Boise State is not going to the Mountain West today, anyway.
Commissioner Craig Thompson announced Monday that the conference’s nine presidents have decided to wait to make a decision on expansion until there is more clarity about what will happen with conferences around the country.
Thompson plans to hold a conference call with the presidents before Boise State's July 1 deadline to leave the WAC for the 2011-12 season.
"I don't think the door is closed," Thompson said.
The Mountain West presidents want more information about the conference landscape before they make a decision, Thompson said. The presidents declined interview requests.
The presidents hope the Pac-10, Big Ten and Big 12 make their decisions first.
"That would be the preferable," Thompson said. "Whether that happens or not we may not have that opportunity."
Some other comments from Thompson:
"They didn't vote. They opted not to expand."
"The topic of expansion is still very much alive."
"It's very confusing times for everybody."
Thompson called Boise State president Bob Kustra. "I simply said our board at this time has made a decision not to expand," he said. Thompson didn't call anyone else because they hadn't shown interest, he said.
Kustra response: “The Mountain West Conference’s decision not to expand is understandable at this time of uncertainty in intercollegiate athletics. Boise State University remains an attractive school for its academics and athletics. Any future conference affiliation should support the long-term vision of the university. The most appropriate action at this juncture is to wait and see how the variables unfold. The opportunity has not been lost. Boise State will continue to grow, develop and excel as one of the premier institutions in the West, competing and partnering with the Western Athletic Conference schools to strengthen and enhance the WAC.”
Athletic director Gene Bleymaier response: "Boise State’s goal to be a nationally prominent program is steadfast. If the opportunity for expansion presents itself, Boise State is a university with a strong academic and athletic resume.”
Football coach Chris Petersen response: “This does not change anything that we have been working on in regards to football. Since the end of last season our players and coaches have been preparing hard for the upcoming season. That is where our total focus is and will continue to be. We have a very challenging non-conference and conference schedule ahead of us and we are not planning to change our goals because of today’s decision. The WAC has, and will continue to be, a very strong platform to advance Bronco football. We look forward to another demanding and exciting season in 2010.”
The Mountain West will distribute a record $26.5 million for 2009-10, Thompson said. That includes TCU's $5 million for qualifying for the Fiesta Bowl. NCAA men's basketball qualifiers also get a bonus. So that's an average of $2.9 million per school, but it's not an even split.
The WAC distribution is expected to average $1.2 million per school.
Boise State received $3 million for its Fiesta Bowl berth. TCU's check was larger in part because the Horned Frogs received the more lucrative automatic bid available to the non-BCS conferences and Boise State got an at-large berth.
The Mountain West Conference expects to hold a press conference at about 11:45 a.m.
Commissioner Craig Thompson will address the media but no presidents will be available to the media. That could mean there won't be an invite. When TCU was invited, BYU president Cecil Samuelson made the announcement. He was the chairman of the board of directors.
The league has concluded its meetings well ahead of schedule.
The press conference will air live on The Mtn. and CBS College Sports.
Like many college conferences, the Mountain West is as concerned about retention as expansion at its summer meetings.
The Mountain West presidents met Sunday and are meeting again now. They likely will wrap up their meetings today so they don’t have to meet on Tuesday morning, as originally scheduled.
Conference membership is an important part of the agenda.
“It’s kind of a two-way street,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told the Idaho Statesman on Sunday. “Are these nine committed to each other … or are you looking to go there and are you going to leave for here? It’s that in general coupled with what makes us better, what makes us stronger.”
Two of the biggest threats to the long-term stability of the Mountain West might disappear thanks to the Pac-10’s dramatic expansion plan.
If the Pac-10 takes six Big 12 teams, it won’t be taking Utah.
And if the Big 12 loses six teams to the Pac-10 and at least one to the Big Ten, it will lose its standing as a conference, according to The New York Times. The newspaper cited an NCAA rule that states a league must have six schools that have played together for at least five years. It’s unclear whether the Big 12 could add six Mountain West teams (they’ve played together for five years) to get around that rule, but that’s unlikely to fly.
If the Mountain West stays together, then the question becomes what to do next. Should the league add Boise State? Hold out for Colorado? Grab them both? Go to 12 teams? Go to 16 teams?
Those are the issues the presidents began discussing Sunday and will confront today. Columnist Brian Murphy and I wrote about that debate in today’s edition of the Statesman. Here are links to the stories: news, pros for the Mountain West, cons for the Mountain West and Murph’s take.
One reason 10 teams makes sense for the Mountain West is the ability to form travel partners for basketball. However, Thompson told us that his men’s basketball coaches don’t want that. They like the Wednesday-Saturday schedule, which gives them one more practice between games than if they play Thursday-Saturday with both games on the road.
“(They think) ‘How am I going to go on a two-game swing anywhere in the league and win two games? I’m fortunate to get a split,’ ” Thompson said. “ ‘If I have that extra day to practice, I’m the best coach in America, I’ll beat ‘em.’ We have nine of them that think that way.”
If you’re dreaming of a Mountain West with Boise State, Kansas and Colorado, forget it. Kansas and Kansas State reportedly are committed to staying together. So if the Mountain West can get Kansas — the Big East might be more likely — it would have to take Kansas State. That would mean leaving Boise State out or expanding beyond 12.
Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel blames the Bowl Championship Series, Big Ten and Big 12 for the rash of realignments that might be on the way.