By Brian Murphy
Boise State will remain in the Mountain West in all sports and will not join the Big East, the school and league announced Monday afternoon.
Boise State was scheduled to join the Big East in football and the Big West in most other sports in July, but instead the Broncos will stay in the Mountain West. Boise State joined the league in 2011.
As part of its agreement to remain in the Mountain West, the rights to Boise State's home football games will be sold apart from the Mountain West's television contract.
The league announced a restructured television agreement with CBS Sports earlier this month. As part of the agreement, the league can sell rights packages — including those to Boise State home games — to other networks.
Boise State and other football teams in the Mountain West who appear on national television (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) will be paid a bonus of $300,000 per game, with an additional $200,000 for a Saturday game, according to Boise State.
"I have had the utmost trust that the university would make the right decision in what is best for Bronco football and all our sports at Boise State," football coach Chris Petersen said. "This innovative proposal to get football the maximum exposure on national television will be a tremendous boost to our program as we continue to grow the Bronco brand."
The Mountain West is one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country and Boise State's men's basketball team will remain there.
"We are excited to remain in the Mountain West Conference, as it has proven to be one of the top basketball leagues in the country. We have to continue to grow this program in every aspect to compete in this league, and our administration, our coaches and our players understand that," men's basketball coach Leon Rice said.
Boise State must pay the Big East a $5 million exit fee, but it can be negotiated to a lesser amount, Boise State said. The Mountain West will help pay whatever exit fee the Broncos owe. Boise State will not owe an exit fee or an entrance fee to the Mountain West.
Boise State's decision leaves the Mountain West with 11 football-playing members in 2013. (Hawaii plays football in the Mountain West, but nothing else). Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said he has spoken with "three to five" schools in the last 24 hours, including San Diego State, which was set to move with Boise State to the Big East.
Thompson said he has had informal conversations with BYU about rejoining the Mountain West.
Boise State will be allowed to wear all-blue uniforms at home as part of the deal.
Boise State President Bob Kustra issued a lengthy statement on the decision:
"I am pleased to announce that Boise State will remain in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) for all MWC sports, including football. In doing so, we thank the members and Commissioners of the Big East Conference and the Big West Conference for their acceptance of us as members. In making this decision, we considered revenue, stability, team and fan travel, and the advantage for Boise State athletics in general of having most sports in one conference.
"This has been an odyssey for Boise State, with all the unexpected turns and changes that term suggests. The responsibility for conference membership lies at the desk of the university president and it’s one I have taken very seriously. The benefits of geographic footprint, revenue, and national exposure have to be balanced, one to the other. In this day of constantly shifting memberships, the value of those benefits also shifts, often into the unknown.
"The remaining teams in the Big East and those about to join the Big East are fine programs with leadership that I have come to know and value greatly. But I also appreciate the membership of the Mountain West Conference — many of whom are considered our traditional rivals — and look forward to our continued relationship.
"Thanks to the success of Coach Petersen and his staff, Boise State football is a unique program with a value in media and ticket sales attractive to a number of conferences and bowl venues. Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and the presidents on his board recognized that and created for the very first time — with CBS Sports’ agreement — an innovative and unique offer for Boise State that exceeds prior offers and carves our home football games from the conference media package and allows their sale on the market, with Boise State and the MWC as partners in the sale.
"In return, Boise State and other teams in the conference who may appear on national TV (ESPN, ESPN2, NBC, CBS, Fox) will be paid a bonus of $300,000 per game, with an additional $200,000 for a Saturday game. This innovative approach accesses for both the institutions and the conference the TV value brought to the conference by its teams, while treating all of its members, to the extent possible, in an equitable and fair way.
"Finally, the MWC is implementing a system whereby any member whose football performance results in payments from the BCS to the conference will share directly in those revenues on a 50/50 basis with the conference, thus enjoying a direct reward for their team's success.
"It is my fondest hope that everyone in the Boise State family will be pleased with this arrangement and appreciate the team effort that was required to get us here. Special thanks to Vice President and Legal Counsel Kevin Satterlee, who worked tirelessly to achieve this result, and to Athletic Director Mark Coyle for his leadership throughout this process."