By Brian Murphy
Boise State AD issues statement on conference changes
The WAC, Boise State's future home for most non-football sports, has been decimated this week. The league has just two football-playing members (Idaho and New Mexico State) left and four others, including Boise State.
The Broncos are scheduled to leave the Mountain West next summer with its highly regarded football program moving to the Big East and most of its other homes moving to the WAC.
But the chaos with the WAC means Boise State may have to find another home for their non-football sports. The Broncos were unsuccessful at getting those programs into the Big West last year and the West Coast Conference seemed to have little interest.
Earlier on Friday, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said Boise State cannot house their other sports in the league without the football program, but left open the possibility of Boise State remaining an all-sports member of the Mountain West.
"We continue to closely monitor the changing landscape of college athletics as a result of the latest news on conference realignment. During this time of change, we remain committed to making the best long-term decisions for Boise State University," Athletic Director Mark Coyle said in a statement.
Idaho AD: Staying in FBS conference is the ideal situation
Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear held a teleconference Friday afternoon to discuss the Vandals' future in light of the massive conference realignment and the exodus from the WAC.
Spear said the school would evaluate at least four scenarios and stressed that remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision is a top priority.
The four scenarios that Idaho intends to explore:
1. An all-sport membership in an FBS conference
2. Football in an FBS conference with other sports in a different league
3. Football as an FBS independent with other sports in a league
4. Review the feasibility of FCS football
"The most ideal situation for the University of Idaho would be to be in an FBS conference for all of our sports," Spear said.
He said the Sun Belt is one possibility, but said there are other options in addition to the Sun Belt.
Spear said the university was not given an opportunity to make an in-person presentation to the Mountain West before the league decided to add Utah State and San Jose State.
"I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Commissioner (Craig) Thompson and do a formal presentation," Spear said.
Idaho put together a presentation and sent it to the Mountain West, the league's presidents and athletic directors and, Idaho President Duane Nellis called the presidents of the Mountain West and Conference USA to state his case for inclusion.
Spear said the market size of Moscow and surrounding areas was the biggest factor in being bypassed by the Mountain West.
Spear said Idaho has not done an extensive review of the financial implications of moving to the FCS vs. remaining in the FBS.
"Whatever the final outcome, the University of Idaho is going to be fine," Spear said.
• Spear said he has talked with nearly every conference commissioner in recent weeks. He said he has spoken with Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton, but that those conversations were more philosophical in nature.
• Spear did not give a timeline for a decision, but said "there's a lot of discussion that has to happen between now and the first of July."
• Spear said it was imperative for the Vandals to improve their facilities. "There should have been a rush 20 years ago," he said.
He said the president has many focuses on campus, including the construction of a new science building. But Spear said it was up to him as athletic director and "it is up to the University of Idaho to figure out how to get these facilities prioritized and done."
• He said repeatedly that a fissure in the FBS was coming with the five big conferences (SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 10 and Big 12) likely to create a new structure. Spear said he wants Idaho to be in the second tier when that happens.
Mountain West adds Utah State, San Jose State; Says Boise State must bring all sports if it wants back in league
The Mountain West officially added Utah State and San Jose State to its remodeled league Friday morning, taking two more schools away from the shrinking WAC. The schools will join the Mountain West on July 1, 2013.
On that date — the same day Boise State will join the Big East in football and, for now, the WAC in most other sports — the Mountain West will have 10 football-playing members and nine all-sport members.
"As we have developed the strategy for the future of the Conference, the long-standing rivalries with our current members and the fit within our geographic footprint made these two institutions the optimal choices to strengthen our membership and position ourselves for the next steps," Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said.
In addition to the Mountain West's moves, Conference USA also officially introduced five new members, including Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio from the WAC. North Texas, Florida International and Charlotte are also joining Conference USA.
The Mountain West and Conference USA continue to work on a partnership, Thompson said during his conference call. He said the announcements were strategically timed.
Thompson hit on several other issues:
• Boise State cannot house its non-football programs in the Mountain West without its football team playing in the league, Thompson said. That has been the league's position all along and is in the conference's bylaws. "Football allows you to play your Olympic sports in the Mountain West," Thompson said.
• Thompson said that Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle was at the league's meetings this week in Arizona. He said there is room for Boise State and San Diego State if the teams decide not to move their football programs to the Big East. "I think there is room at the table. I don't want to get into a hypothetical answer. Yes, 10 members is two short of a conference championship game (in football)," Thompson said.
• Utah State and San Jose State will pay an entrance fee to the Mountain West, but Thompson would not disclose it.
• Thompson said Idaho and New Mexico State — the lone football-playing members left in the WAC — made presentations to the Mountain West for inclusion. Thompson said "their presidents and ADs did a tremendous job." He said there was "considerable consideration" for the schools. New Mexico "pushed hard for New Mexico State's inclusion." Instead, the league chose to add Utah State and San Jose State.
Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear will hold a teleconference at 4 p.m. Mountain to discuss conference realignment.
• The league is working on an agreement that would allow another "15-to-20" football games to be broadcast by a regional network. He said schools would then be able to sell local broadcasts for remaining games.
Big Sky: 'Idaho would be very welcome'
The Big Sky Conference is "basically sitting and watching and seeing where all the chips fall," Associate Commissioner Ron Loghry said.
The Big Sky has 13 football-playing schools and 11 all-sport members. UC Davis and Cal Poly are football-only members.
The league would like to add another all-sport members so it could divide into divisions for non-football sports and cut down on travel costs.
"Part of the grand scheme is to get to 12 and possibly explore divisions and save money on travel. It's there. The presidents and the commissioner are being very deliberate," Loghry said.
South Dakota State was slated to be the 12/14th member, but opted not to join the league.
"They didn't want to make any rash decisions by trying to find a 12th member," he said.
Idaho, however, would be an ideal candidate. The Vandals are former Big Sky members (1965-1996) and would be a terrific fit geographically for the Big Sky.
"It's no secret. It goes without saying that the University of Idaho would be very welcome," Loghry said.
Winners and losers
• Chris Murray of the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal has posted his Western conference realignment winners and losers. Do you agree with him that Boise State's non-football sports are losers in the exchange?
Release from Mountain West on the additions of San Jose State, Utah State
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West announced today that San José State University and Utah State University have accepted invitations to join the Conference, effective with the 2013-14 academic year. The addition of San José State University and Utah State University on July 1, 2013 will bring the full-time membership of the Mountain West to nine institutions and 10 football-playing members.
"We are pleased to announce the addition of San José State University and Utah State University to the ranks of the Mountain West," said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. "As we have developed the strategy for the future of the Conference, the long-standing rivalries with our current members and the fit within our geographic footprint made these two institutions the optimal choices to strengthen our membership and position ourselves for the next steps."
Those next steps include continued consideration of a future association between Conference USA and the Mountain West. The two leagues have synchronized their new membership decisions and are still determining what form the alliance will take.
"Joining the Mountain West in 2013 is an exciting opportunity for San José State University's student-athletes, coaches and our many supporters," SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi said. "I want to thank everyone who worked hard to make this happen. The Mountain West and San José State are a great match. We are not joining this conference to simply compete. We are joining to win, and to build upon our current record of success reflecting San José State's role as a leader in the classroom, research and athletics."
"This is an exciting moment for Utah State University as the decision renews historic rivalries and places us in a conference that is a model of athletic and academic success," said USU president Stan Albrecht. "We are proud to join with this group of high-quality institutions as we continue our very positive upward trajectory. This is a great day for Utah State athletics and for the university as a whole."
"On behalf of the Mountain West Board of Directors, I would like to welcome these two wonderful institutions to the Conference," said UNLV President and MW Board Chair Neal Smatresk. "They clearly enhance the rivalries within the league and strengthen the fabric of our membership. We look forward to having San Jose State and Utah State join us for what promises to be a successful future."
About San José State
Founded in 1857 and with an enrollment of 28,002, San José State is the oldest public institution of higher education in the state of California. Ranked in the top 15 master's-level public universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SJSU is also the number one supplier of education, engineering, computer science and business graduates to Silicon Valley, the world's high tech capital. San José provides the sixth-largest media market in the country and is conveniently located midway between San Francisco and Monterey/Carmel.
San José State competes in 16 varsity sports and will be adding a 17th with women's outdoor track in 2013-14. The Spartans have won 10 NCAA Division I team championships and 50 NCAA Division I individual titles. San José State has a winning record in its postseason football history including its most recent bowl victory in the 2006 New Mexico Bowl. Thus far in 2011-12, the Spartans won conference championships in women's swimming and diving, women's golf and men's golf. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and six bronze medals in Olympic Games competition.
About Utah State
Utah State, a university with an enrollment of 25,767, was founded in 1888 in Logan, Utah. Identified as the No. 1 public university in the West, and among the top five nationally, on Forbes' list of America's Best College Buys, USU's undergraduate research program is the second oldest in the country after MIT.
Utah State sponsors 16 varsity sports. The Aggies men's basketball program is one of just five schools nationally to record 13 straight 21 wins seasons and has advanced to 13 straight postseasons (8-NCAA, 4-NIT, 1-CIT), which is tied for the 11th-longest active streak in the nation. USU's women's basketball team has advanced to postseason play in each of the last two years, participating in the Women's National Invitational Tournament, while its women's soccer program advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament in 2012. Utah State's football team finished the 2012 season in second place in the WAC and played in its first bowl game since 1997 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
About the Mountain West
The Mountain West was founded with eight members in 1998. Five of the original members remain - The United States Air Force Academy, Colorado State University, the University of New Mexico, UNLV and the University of Wyoming. Fresno State and the University of Nevada will join the Mountain West effective July 1, 2012. Also on that date, the University of Hawai`i will become a football-only member of the Conference.