By Brian Murphy
The State Board of Education voted Thursday afternoon to give Boise State President Bob Kustra the authority to "to accept an invitation to the Big East as a football only member and to another conference for the University's remaining intercollegiate sports."
The board voted 7-1 to give Kustra the authority during a special meeting in Boise. The no vote came from Bill Goesling, a board member from Moscow. Goesling made a motion to delay a decision, but no one on the eight-member board seconded his motion.
A decision could come quickly.
"We are certainly working on this day-by-day and I would think that by next week we should have a resolution," Kustra told the board.
Boise State would not move until July 1, 2013 to avoid paying an exit fee. The Broncos would not collect their 2012-13 revenue distribution from the Mountain West, likely to be around $3 million to $4 million, as a penalty for leaving the league.
Kustra said the Broncos might have "an agreement or a set of conditions" from another league for their non-football sports "in the next day or so." He did not name what league the other sports might move into, but said a geographic fit was important. Kustra said Interim Athletic Director Curt Apsey briefed the coaches on campus Thursday morning.
Kustra said it was important that the Boise State have a "Western partner" in the new-look Big East, which is planning to split into two six-team divisions. The league is planning to invite Boise State, Air Force and Navy for football only and add Central Florida, Houston and SMU in all sports.
"Air Force has not indicated it's ready to make that move," Kustra said. "... We made it very clear to them, if I was going to go in, if Boise State was going to go in, we would go in with a Western partner."
Kustra said under the current plan Boise State would be in a Western Division with Air Force, Houston, SMU, Louisville and Cincinnati. He said the league is in discussions with other Western schools about possibly joining the league. He did not name those schools, but reports have surfaced that BYU is a possibility. San Diego State has indicated it would have some interest in joining a Western Division of the Big East.
Kustra said the Mountain West, which Boise State officially joined on July 1, is "not the same conference we first agreed to join." The league lost Utah and BYU before the Broncos joined and TCU is leaving after this academic year.
He said the Big East payout to football-playing schools would be $3.7 million, up from the current $1.4 million to $1.9 million that the Mountain West distributed. Kustra also noted that the Big East is going to renegotiate its television contract in 2012 and "the Big East expects that bidding its media rights on the open market in the fall of 2012 will result in a significant increase in the conference media revenue."
Kustra's statement to the State Board
Remarks of Boise State President Bob Kustra:
“As we have informed you and the media has reported, we’ve been in discussions over the past few weeks with the Big East Conference, regarding the possibility of our joining their conference for football only, beginning in July 2013.
“It was not long ago that I came to you regarding a move to the Mountain West Conference. Unfortunately, and through no fault of Mountain West schools or conference leadership, it is simply not the same conference that we first agreed to join. The loss of Utah, BYU, and TCU, and now, potentially Air Force, dealt a blow to the quality of conference competition and their chances of achieving Automatic Qualifying status in the next BCS evaluation. So my hope for a competitive and compact geographic conference has been dashed on the hard facts of media dollars and BCS membership. And so too will it be for us.
“Given the opportunities that the Big East conference affords us, not only in increased revenues and BCS status, but also to be in the company of outstanding universities, with long histories, outstanding academics, and large fan bases, we are honored to be under consideration for membership. Without question, we are being afforded this opportunity because of the incredible work and success of our nationally ranked Top 10 football program. As president, I take very seriously the responsibility to respond to the opportunities this program has afforded us. It will be good not only for Athletics, but also for the entire University, to forge new relationships with these outstanding institutions. I am always concerned about travel, for our student-athletes, coaches and our fans. The good news is that the Big East is working to provide us partners through the creation of a Western division. Conference play will be among those divisions, with a championship between East and West.
“I have promised throughout this process that the University would conduct a rigorous due diligence process. We have done so, through in-person meetings, countless telephone conversations, careful analysis of options, and, currently, a review and analysis of term of membership and apportionment of revenues. There is no way to know the amount of revenue that will be realized under a new Big East media contract. Under the current Big East contract, the revenue would nearly triple the amount we now receive from the Mountain West, but the Big East contract is due for renegotiation in 2012 and knowledgeable sources universally point to significantly increased conference media revenue in the upcoming contract. No guarantees, but a very strong likelihood, in my judgment.
“There have been no formal invitations, but today I seek your authority to make the decision once an invite is extended, and also to make the decision regarding the conference in which basketball and our other Olympic sports will be located. Both decisions are critically important to the future of the University and its athletic programs.”
Boise State's pre-prepared motion
BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY
Boise State University requests permission to change conference affiliation for its intercollegiate athletics teams
President Kustra has informed the Board, and news media organizations have reported, that Boise State is one of several institutions under consideration for potential membership in the Big East Conference for its intercollegiate football team. These discussions are a result of the conference realignment precipitated by the changing membership of many schools in the eastern and mid-west conferences. The domino effect of these changes has caused the potential for a conference change for Boise State. While no invitation to join has been extended at this time, the University anticipates an offer is imminent and is requesting Board approval to proceed in the best interests of the University should an offer be extended.
The primary impact will be the increase in conference revenue. Currently, the Mountain West conference-wide payout is roughly between $1,400,000 and $1,900,000 per year, depending upon football bowl and basketball post season performance of conference teams. If the expansion plans of the Big East proceed as reported, there will be 12 football playing schools in the Big East.
Under the current Big East media agreements (which will lapse and come due for renegotiation in 2012), the payouts to the football playing schools would be approximately $3,700,000 annually. However, the Big East Conference is the only member of the BCS automatic qualifying conferences that has its media rights package coming due for renewal in 2012. The Big East expects that bidding its media rights on the open market in the fall of 2012 will result in a significant increase in the conference media revenue. Finally, the Big East is considered one of the premier conferences in men’s and women’s basketball.
While Boise State will not be a basketball playing member, the increased exposure to the affiliation with such a strong conference will be good for the University and is part of what will drive the increased media value for the 2012 media rights bids.
As noted, the Big East is also a member of the BCS. As such its conference champion is guaranteed a placement in one of the five BCS bowl games. This exposure is important to the University and its football program for various reasons. The Big East is guaranteed the automatic qualifying status through the 2013 season (for the January 2014 BCS bowl games). In addition, the Big East has bowl tie-ins with several other prominent bowl games.
The Big East plans to adopt a 12 team football conference with an East and West Division. The two division alignment allows the addition of a championship game at the end of the season. A conference championship game is expected to also add value to the media rights of the conference.
The University expects increased travel costs in association with the longer charter flights for conference games. However, since the University already charters planes for all away football games, the increased cost is only the incremental cost over the already chartered flights to Mountain West Conference games. The University estimates this increase at approximately $200,000 to $300,000 annually.
Another important impact of joining the Big East as a football only member will be that the University will be required to have all other sports in a conference as well. The University has pursued this by inquiring of several potential conferences. Such discussions are ongoing and the University is confident its quality programs will be a welcome addition to one of those conferences.
The conference change is anticipated to occur July 1, 2013. With more than one year advance notice the University will not pay the $5,000,000 exit penalty to the Mountain West Conference and will, instead, only forfeit the annual conference wide distribution for the 2012 season.
I move to authorize the President of Boise State University to make the final decision as to whether it is in the best interests of the University to accept an invitation to the Big East Conference as a football only member and to another conference for the University’s remaining intercollegiate sports, and in so doing to comply with all Board policies and procedures.
Moved by __________ Seconded by __________ Carried Yes _____ No _____
Kustra will not attend in person
Boise State President Bob Kustra will not attend today's State Board of Education meeting in person. Instead, Kustra will address the eight-member board by phone.
The State Board will discuss Boise State's future conference affiliation at the 2 p.m. meeting in Boise. Boise State is considering moving its highly ranked football program from the Mountain West to the Big East.
Here is our preview of the meeting from Thursday's paper.
I will be attending the meeting and posting regular updates on this blog and to my Twitter account.
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