By Brian Murphy
Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier called the addition of Hawaii's football program to the Mountain West a "good move" on Friday, but he made it clear he was not in favor of adding the Warriors' entire athletic department to the league.
"Not having a burden of sending all of our other sports over there is a real plus. I think that was what made this very attractive. We're able to strengthen the football in our league without costing us an arm and a leg with the other sports," Bleymaier said.
Hawaii, Bleymaier said, should help the Mountain West's bargaining power with its television partners. Boise State should be able to make money off the addition of Hawaii. It costs close to $150,000 to send the football team to Hawaii. But Boise State makes much more than that off the extra football game it is allowed to schedule in years that the Broncos play at Hawaii.
"As far as the Mountain West is concerned it's going to settle down and I think we can get down to business and get some things put in place," Bleymaier said.
The move leaves the WAC with seven football schools (and eight overall) beginning in 2012: continuing members Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State, new all-sport members Texas State and UT-San Antonio and new non-football member Denver.
"I am continuing to work with the WAC membership committee on identifying future membership options. At the same time we are internally discussing the landscape and evaluating multiple scenarios based on the information we are gathering," Idaho athletic director Rob Spear wrote in a text message to the Idaho Statesman.
Spear said maintaining the Vandals' place in the Football Bowl Subdivision is paramount.
"Staying in the FBS is a priority," Spear said.
• San Diego State's president said the league may not be done adding teams.
Hawaii will join the Mountain West Conference in football and the Big West Conference in all sports in 2012, the school and leagues announced Friday.
"The changes we are making provide a great fit for our university and our teams and the many fans who support those athletes," Hawaii chancellor Virginia Hinshaw said.
No other programs are going to be invited to the Mountain West on Friday.
M.R.C. Greenwood, the president of the University of Hawaii system, said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson called her Friday morning with the official invitation.
“The Mountain West Conference is very pleased to gain the University of Hawaii as a Football-only member beginning with the 2012 season,” Thompson said in a release.
“Hawaii’s outstanding football program and television value fit perfectly with the MWC’s strategic initiatives for the future direction of the Conference. We look forward to adding the Warriors to the MWC family.”
Mountain West in 2012
Hawaii (football only)
San Diego State
The addition of Hawaii means that Boise State will be able to schedule a 13th game in years that the Broncos visit Honolulu. That game is usually a money-making home game for Boise State. And it does free up some room on the schedule.
Associated Press story
HONOLULU — The University of Hawaii is joining the Mountain West Conference for football and the Big West in other sports, abandoning the Western Athletic Conference after 32 years.
School President M.R.C. Greenwood said Friday that Hawaii will make the move in 2012, following Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State to the MWC.
The four schools represent the top football programs in the WAC, which is adding Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and the University of Denver on July 1, 2012. Denver doesn't have a football team.
School leaders at the MWC and Big West voted unanimously in favor of inviting Hawaii, which has been in the WAC since 1979.
"We're headed in a new direction and this is a really a historic and great day for the University of Hawaii," athletics director Jim Donovan said. "This is what our coaches and our fans want and we delivered."
Hawaii will become the 10th member of the MWC and will renew rivalries with former WAC schools. MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson welcomed the Warriors.
"Hawaii's outstanding football program and television value fit perfectly with the MWC's strategic initiatives for the future direction of the conference," Thompson said in a statement.
The Warriors are the WAC's longest-running member and shared the conference football title with Boise State and Nevada this year. The remaining WAC members are San Jose State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Utah State.
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson had no response to the announcement.
Donovan expressed concern that the WAC was moving toward the Central Time Zone with the addition of the Texas schools, which would've increased travel costs for Hawaii along with student-athletes spending more time away from school.
He said the TV agreements still need to be worked out. Other financial details weren't disclosed, but Donovan said, "We couldn't afford not to do it."
As for the Big West, Hawaii Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw said the conference fits so well, "academically, competitively, philosophically and geographically."
Hawaii women's teams were members of the Big West from 1984 to 1996.
"The thing we bring is aloha," Greenwood said. "We're also going to bring one heck of a set of teams and they should not expect the aloha to go to far while we are playing their teams."
The president also would not go into the financial details.
"I don't think we can make projections about winning or losing financially right now," she said. "Consider though, this is a critical investment for the state and the citizens and the university to move forward and get the recognition that we deserve."