Report: BYU still considering joining the WAC

Brian Murphy

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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Pure awesomeness.

And to believe, I was feeling sorry for Utah State. Kustra at next meeting with Albrecht, "IN YO' FACE!"

Utah St.

The Aggies only ever wanted to be in the same conference as BYU. BYU used that in getting them to stay in the WAC and now the chances of BYU rewarding Utah St. for its loyalty is ZERO. Albrecht was dancing on strings played like a puppet and was hoping to convince Fresno and Nevada to stay. And whoops, it backfired and now hes stuck in a conference that might crumble completely.

Way to be proactive Bronco Bob. I say that affectionately. A conference with TCU Air Force BYU Fresno and Nevada is a great football conference.

Maybe Not JL....

Wouldn't surprise me if BYU made UTSt inclusion in MWC a condition of staying there themselves...

But then what....

....would people say about the AWESOME loyalty Utah St. claimed they had by staying in the WAC? If the MWC invites Utah St. again I would love to hear all the hypocritical reasons and back pedaling that will happen if they accept.

If BYU Stays and

UTSt is invited, they will run. They just wanna be in Big Brothers play matter what...And the MWC would want them b/c BYU will eventually leave and UtST cements the MWC presence in the SLC TV market..

Loyalty Schmoylaty...

This is about business. Some win and some loose. You state your case and then go about trying to make it happen. Loyalty is the whine of people who got triangulated and left holding the bag. They would have been on the roof tops crowing like roosters if they had managed to out maneuver the other guys. Do pro football players whine about their former team mates who now play for other teams? It is business.

You are stupid. Watch PBS Kids.


"Say a prayer for the pretender..."-Jackson Browne

BYWho could give a rip...

about USU. USU fans should be going after the USU president for the whole thing. BSU never hid it's desire and was up fron with all the WAC members about it's desires. For that, BSU/Kustra gets stabbed in the back and dealt with in an under-handed way.

I now hope the WAC totally falls apart. I hope USU and the Vandals end up losing their conference and KB ends up without a job.

Don't Confuse The Issues

Kustra has made his position clear for years now. The WAC knew - everybody knew. So is the case with BYU in the MWC. There are no good or bad guys here. There are just smart people and smarter people. There is good timing and bad timing. The problem I see with BYU is that they too thought they could depend on "loyalty" only to discover there is no such thing. In football, as in every business, everyone must look out for themselves. Its about money and survival.

I don't think BYU ever had any intention of entering the WAC

I think the only intent they had was drawing attention to BYU TV and by announcing that they wanted to go Independent in football, they were shopping around to see if BYU as an Indie would be the catalyst to launch a new national network. The thing with the WAC was just a safety net in the event that this publicity stunt grew legs. I think for now, BYU is going to be in the MWC, but who knows what will happen in the future, after all, this off-season was just the tip of what's to come for conference re-alignment.

Interesting Idea...

...but too cute by half. It seems to me there were too many uncontrollables for that to considered an effective tactic. In business, partners have to be upfront, at least in the beginning. The reason is they may still be forced to continue the relationship, which, if damaged by deceit, could spell trouble. It makes more sense to just state what you want up front which is what BYU seems to have done. It appears though that the others in the MWC, saw that what BYU wanted would likely spell less money for them so they declined. BYU then figured they were on their own. They gave it their best shot at being open so were thereafter free to look around. They put the WAC deal together but, the MWC made a better offer. In the end, BYU will have to stay, at least for now. Or so it seems to me.


I don't understand what UTST brings to the table for the MWC, other than maybe getting BYU to stay. As to that, I doubt it would cement BYU staying long term as BYU went psycho when UTAH announced they were leaving. Seems to me UTST doesn't add anything. If BYU stays, then a better 12th team would be Houston, assuming they would leave Conf. USA. As to Kustra, even if he had talked to Fresno St and Nevada, I can't blame him. From his point of view, the MWC was in danger of being unstable as the WAC was trying to sneak teams away. That would put BSU in a bad position. From what I read, it sounds like UTST president was gleefully trying to stick it to BSU. I don't know about you folks, but I don't salivate at the prospect of Utah St. joining. Besides, TCU needs a geographical rival to spice things up. We don't hate any of our MWC opponents. Well, BYU made some progress on that end.


Utah St was orig. offered b/c, with BYU gone, it kept presence in SLC TV market. Plus..The WAC loses 3 at once, falls below 6, likely folds. Plus their BBall program helped offset the loss of the other 2 Thats about it.


Why would the MWC want USU. Houston is a bigger TV market, better team and provides a travel partner to TCU. The only reason they extended the invitation the first time was to try and keep a weak conection to the SLC market. If BYU stays, BYE BYE USU and welcome Houston to the MWC.



Why Wouldn't Kustra Vote to Include UtState?

UTST says yes to MWC and the WAC dies. That leaves them with 5. They must have 6 to stay an NC2A conference. Inclusion of D2's requires a 2 year probation period. That would leave the only option of STEALING (which Benson is adept at attempting) a D1 school to save the conference. What school in their right mind would leave a conference to join that mess? Someone correct me if my perception is wrong, I'm no expert on the topic.

Geez....Benson must have headaches and heartburn...I hope he prepaid his daughters 4 years at USC....


This just goes to show what a political hack and weasel Kustra really is. His school isn't even a member yet and he's inviting UNR and Fresno? 26% Bob, 26%.


The guy saves his school's decision to move and conference and you say that...

Go somewhere else then RK

If you hate BSU so much and you do I have seen it, then go somewhere else!

Excuse me?

BSU does not define the city of Boise. Why don't you move somewhere else if you can't understand that! Boise was here long before Boise junior college came into existence.

He means go to another URL

not another city

Thankyou broncokid

Thank you broncokid, WOW! NO YOU LEAVE! NOoooooooo YOU LEAVE THE CITY

I'm picturing the opening part of Rambo First Blood

where the sheriff asks Rambo to leave town and then ends up driving him out of town past the city limit sign and makes him get out of the car. LOL

Then he's got a first amendment thorn in his heinie.

grow up, fanboi


"Say a prayer for the pretender..."-Jackson Browne

Partyhater is Merle Haggard, by god.


"Say a prayer for the pretender..."-Jackson Browne


turned his back on the WAC in an agressive and willfull fashion. He choose to smite the conference with all his meager influence, meanwhile paying lip service to the WAC... AND


What kind of leader IS this guy?? HOW is he helping Idaho AT ALL!? He has been terrrible for the WAC, and UI... he's just lucky enough to be presiding in conjuction with the Peterson era. He owes his longevity to Chris's success.


With an E. Geezus, vandies. If you think you are so educated at least spell his name right....


His name and the team is PLAYED. Burns my cajonies too.


"Say a prayer for the pretender..."-Jackson Browne

Meager influence?

Now thats funny. If it were meager, why did Thompson let HIM make the invite? poured a cup of stupid on your Lucky Charms this morning...


It would be my guess that he asked Kustra to invite them because of the extensive business relationship that Kustra shares with his fellow WAC presidents and nothing more than that, but to give credit to Kustra for saving the MWC is quite asinine and misleading considering that he did nothing other than play the role of a messenger. I dunno, maybe I missing something here

Yeah, again you are missing something...

I never said Kustra saved the conference. I laughed at the posters reference to "meager influence" with Reno & Fresno...So to spell it out ..If the influence was "meager", why was he selected to extend the invite?

What airline did Kustra use?

The Statesman should find that out so they can give credit to them for their involvement in saving the MWC too. I wonder if he rented a car. hmmmmmmmm

Seriously though Wis, the title of this article references Kustra's involvement in saving the MWC, however, all he did was deliver an invitation. That's all he did, that was the extent of his involvement, that is, unless I'm still missing something

Missing something?? YES!

Yea you missing something. An entire paragraph. Article states in no uncertain terms that Kustra put on his skirt and played cheerleader for a conference he doesn't even belong to yet.

el bandito

According to Murphy, Kustra has a vote for the MWC and not the WAC. You got that, right? are are actually tying the success of Kustra in running BSU to the football team's success??? Hahahaha...fool.


"He has been terrrible for the WAC, and UI..." BSU has been a boon doggle for the WAC for many years now and UI? Who cares....

BSU's desire to join the MWC was never a backroom backstabbing to get it done...such as the attempts of Benson, USU, and BYU to get their deal done.

How Freakin Awesome Is This Story?

Seriously. Murph, when are you going to turn out hard-hitting story's like Mr. Drew? I'm eating this whole thing up.

The emails...

You can tell from the tone of the emails that USU, BYU, and most of the WAC's intent was not simply to strengthen its own league. They fully intended to "stick it" to BSU and the rest of the MWC.

Yep, so much for honor and sportsmanship.


A weasal Who was sneeking around trying to hurt the MWC. WAC,Benson & BYU. Looks like you got out smarted (not hard to to) by the MWC. His comments about dui a few days earlier were spot on. Finally someone with guts that speaks the truth. Now go ahead and have your second drink of the day. And quit showing off you IQ. 26 is nothing to be proud of.

This was just another Kustra shot at the U/I

Once again Kustra embarrases bronco nation. His stupid outburst and now this stab in the back. His only concern was hurting the vandals. This will have national implications. He just continues to damage BSU's reputation nationally.

Another twit

go away

You go away. You must be Vladimir Putin?

Why don't you post in politics like the other teabaggers here?


"Say a prayer for the pretender..."-Jackson Browne

Bronco Boob

Kid: Yes, it is sad. And, yes, many negative national implications and ramfications - in the long run.

But let's face it - Bronco Bob is a politician, a political creature (former state legislator and Lieutenant Governor), and plays to his base. His base is Bronco Nation - not the State of Idaho, or the SBOE, or Idahoans en toto, or students, or the Idaho Legislature. He simply does not perceive a need to be a 'team player' with Idaho's other instututions of higher learning. Nothing in it for him. He is above that. His focus is on building the BSU football program, and nothing else.

So far, his is a winning strategy. He is on top.

I predict, Bronco Bob will not be the President of BSU, this time next year.

And I predict dui won't be

And I predict dui won't be in the WAC. Better get those athletic facilities spruced up or you won't get that Big Sky invite.

Question VNDL

Didn't the Idaho president secretly take part in meetings to lure BYU from the MWC, which would ultimately hurt BSU? And if so, shouldn't the Idaho president have been a team player and warned BSU? I'm also curious as to why, (if Idaho, and not BSU, is such a team player with Idaho's other institutions of higher learning) isn't Idaho out publicly stumping for the inclusion of Idaho State into the WAC?


the U of I administration is well aware that ISU's chance of ever qualifying for FBS status is less than nill. For those who think the Kibbe Dome is awful, ISU's domed Holt Arena (their football stadium) is worse.

While we are on the subject, I agree with an editorial comment that appeared in the Twin Falls (ID) newspaper last year. In that comment, the paper suggested that ISU would be better off dropping to Division II.

You do know

that Holt seats only 4,000 less than the Kibbie, right?

DII Won't Happen

I recall the Times News also running SEVERAL columns not so long ago (within the last few years) which said Idaho should go back to the Big Sky.

Idaho State to Division II

Good, the Vandals can take their spot in the Big Sky!

The only people who are

The only people who are embarrassed by the relevations in this story are Benson and the presidents of USU and BYU...period.

It all had NOTHING to do with U of I...try as you might to make them relevant.