SBD/Issue 184/Collegiate Sports

MWC Not Ready To Expand Given Uncertain Conference Landscape

Thompson Says MWC Will Revisit
Expansion When The Time Is Right

Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson yesterday said the league's BOD "did not make a decision to expand at the present time" due to the "uncertainty in the intercollegiate landscape and the potential for significant shifts in the immediate future." However, Thompson said expansion "will be and can be revisited appropriately." Thompson: "Everything's still on the table." It had been expected that Boise State Univ. would be invited to join the conference (The mtn., 6/7). MWC presidents "plan to address the potential addition of Boise State again in the next few weeks" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 6/8). Boise State President Bob Kustra yesterday said, "There's been a will on the part of the commissioner and a substantial number of presidents to make this happen. ... I don't think that changes. I just think they've decided to exercise some due diligence in slowing down long enough to see if there could be some forces beyond their control that seriously impact who they are" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 6/8). WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said that the July 1 deadline for Boise State to "declare its intention to leave the WAC before the 2011 season is not a completely strict date." But he added that "should the realignment chess match drag on past the deadline, and the Broncos opt to leave, they would be penalized by the WAC board of regents" (IDAHO PRESS-TRIBUNE, 6/8).

WAITING GAME: Thompson said that it "would be 'preferable' for other moves to go through before the Mountain West plays its hand," but that the conference "would also act independently, if necessary" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/8). In San Diego, Brent Schrotenboer writes "depending on where the first dominoes fall, the ensuing tremors could leave the MWC more powerful than ever before, weaker than ever before, or somewhere in between." San Diego State Univ. President Stephen Weber: "The best-case scenario for us is that the conference reshaping, in whatever form, puts us in the [BCS]. The worst case scenario is that if it reshuffles at a pace at which we cannot keep up, and the outcome from that is something like four 16-team mega conferences, of which we are not a part" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/8). ESPN.com's Graham Watson wrote, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened here. Boise State was once the shiniest toy on the block, but with the potential of four Big 12 teams available, the Mountain West wanted to see if they could do better" (ESPN.com, 6/7). When asked if the Univ. of Colorado "specifically came up in the discussions," Thompson said, "Yes" (DENVER POST, 6/8).

GO WEST, YOUNG MEN? ORANGEBLOODS.com's Chip Brown cited sources as saying that Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott "will start extending formal invitations to six Big 12 schools as early as this week, although the sixth invitation still appears to be up in the air." Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State "are getting invitations," but sources said that Scott is "still gauging the seriousness of a push in the Texas Legislature to keep Baylor with its Big 12 South brothers." The Pac-10's list of invitations initially "included Colorado." Scott's plan is to "invite six Big 12 schools and have them play in a division with Arizona and Arizona State," with the other division consisting of USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State (ORANGEBLOODS.com, 6/7). Scott said, “Things are very fluid out there right now." But he added, “We don’t feel any pressure to have to make a decision on what we’re going to do until the end of the year because our media negotiations don’t start until 2011.” Scott said, “The narrative around this whole topic really changed in December, I guess, when the Big Ten appeared to throw down the gauntlet and announced they were going to expand, and that created this kind of fear factor out there it seems. But, candidly, it really hasn’t changed our outlook on this thing. … I think what the Big Ten has done in creating the anxiety about domino effects is basically opened up more possibilities than we might have had” (“The Scott Van Pelt Show,” ESPN Radio, 6/7).

Notre Dame Reportedly Facing Deadline
On Decision On Whether To Join Big Ten
ALL EYES ON NOTRE DAME: An AD with knowledge of the Big Ten said Notre Dame "may now be on the clock" in its talks with the conference. The Big Ten is "apparently ready to grant Notre Dame's request that if the Irish decide to join the Big Ten that it be the only school added to the league." The conference also is "apparently telling Notre Dame if the Irish turn down the invitation, the Big Ten could expand by five schools to go to 16." The deadline for Notre Dame is "believed to be synonymous with the deadline given to Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado of June 15 to declare future intentions" (ORANGEBLOODS.com, 6/7). But Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said that he "had not been engaged in any discussions with the Big Ten." Swarbrick: "We have not entered into discussions with anyone" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8).

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