7:43 p.m. — The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that WAC commissioner Karl Benson is still negotiating with BYU about joining the league.
3:02 p.m. — Has anyone been telling the truth about conference realignment? The e-mails obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune indicate conference officials, school presidents and athletic directors have been less than truthful in their public comments.
Boise State president Bob Kustra:
• Here's what he told the Statesman: "I didn’t make any calls to ask them to come join us."
• Here's what the e-mails allege: "The purpose of (Kustra's) call is to invite FSU, Nevada and Utah State to consider joining the MWC." — Utah State president Stan Albrecht in an e-mail to Fresno State president John Welty.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson:
• Here's what he told the Statesman (and others): Reports that the WAC has contacted other Mountain West schools are "incorrect."
• Here's what the e-mails allege: "We were hopeful that when Karl met with UNLV, they would consider joining the WAC. They were not interested." — Nevada athletic director Cary Groth to Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson:
• Here's what he told the Statesman (and others): Adding Fresno State and Nevada was done as pro-active move and had nothing to do with BYU's possible departure
• Here's what the e-mails allege: "Looks like Craig Thompson/Mt West has realized that the BYU issue is real and is now mounting an effort to convince/persuade BYU to stay in the Mt West." — WAC commissioner Karl Benson in an e-mail to others
• Here's what he told the Statesman (and others): The trip to Philadelphia to visit with television partners was a regularly scheduled trip
• Here's what the e-mails allege: "Craig Thompson traveling to Comcast corp headquarters in Philadelphia to see if he can get relief/concessions to accommodate BYU’s issues with Mt. Network," — WAC commissioner Karl Benson in an e-mail to others.
Here is a timeline of the e-mails.
9:45 a.m. The Salt Lake Tribune has collected a bunch of e-mails from Utah State that outlines how BYU's deal to join the WAC collapsed in the final hours. Read the story, which leads with an e-mail about Boise State president Bob Kustra.
It really is excellent work by the Tribune and you should check it out if you've been following this conference re-alignment story.
The Tribune has released several other e-mails in its blogs, including this one, which indicates that it was Kustra, acting on behalf of the Mountain West, that invited Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State to join the league.
The e-mail is from Utah State president Stan Albrecht to Fresno State president John Welty on Aug. 17, one day before Fresno State and Nevada joined the MWC:
John, you will be visiting with [Boise State president] Bob Kustra shortly. I would appreciate it if you would not let him know about this message from me, but the purpose of his call is to invite FSU, Nevada and Utah State to consider joining the MWC.
I basically told him that they were more than a day late and a dollar short. He did tell me that BYU's president told them in a conference call this morning that the BYU-WAC deal is a done deal and will be formally announced in the next few days.
That has left the MWC scrambling. They are concerned about losing their TV contract entirely, as well as worrying about other teams now looking to move.
Bob put a positive face on this and indicated that the could survive as an 8-team league, but they have clearly been caught unprepared for this. I think this puts us in [a] very strong position to take some additional positive steps forward."
Whatever Kustra said to Welty in that phone call must have swayed his opinion.
And it appears Nevada was wavering already — concerned about getting into the same league as UNLV.
Another e-mail, this one from Nevada athletic director Cary Groth to Utah State counterpart Scott Barnes, indicates WAC commissioner Karl Benson tried to talk UNLV into joining the WAC.
That probably means the WAC was also asking around at other Mountain West schools, including San Diego State.
As I wrote on Aug. 18, when this all went down, this was a fight for survival. The WAC, by accepting BYU and targeting other Mountain West schools, was making a power play that likely would have sent the MWC scrambling. The Mountain West, by targeting Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State, was fighting for its survival — at the expense of the WAC.
Another note: It's hard to imagine Kustra casting a vote to include Utah State in the Mountain West after seeing these e-mails.
Meanwhile, everyone is still waiting for BYU to make a decision.
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