SBD/November 20, 2012/Colleges

Boise State, San Diego State Refute Reported Move Back To Mountain West Conference

Boise State President says school is still committed to joining Big East next year
Rutgers' impending departure from the Big East has once again put the long-term future of the Big East Conference in doubt. In Boise, Brian Murphy reports Boise State Univ. President Bob Kustra last night put out two statements responding to an ESPN report that BSU, San Diego State and BYU were discussing a return to the Mountain West Conference. In the “first, shorter statement, Kustra did not deny reports that the Broncos were considering a move back" to their current conference. Less than “two hours later, he released a longer, more detailed statement.” Kustra in the second statement wrote, "I want to make it clear that Boise State has had no discussions with the Mountain West Conference in the past couple of weeks. We are in constant communication with presidents and athletic directors of the Big East and we intend to strengthen ... the conference by adding members who can contribute to a strong conference" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 11/20). In San Diego, Stefanie Loh reports San Diego State AD Jim Sterk also “refuted the report” that SDSU was in talks with the Mountain West. Sterk said, “I have not spoken to the (Mountain West) commissioner since May, and there’s been no communication with them. Our president has just been on a call with Boise State, and they haven’t had any communication with the Mountain West either, and the president at BYU hasn’t had communications with them either.” Sterk said Rutgers’ departure from the Big East to the Big Ten would be “a setback, but not a crippling blow that some people would try to make it out to be.” BSU and SDSU are slated to join the Big East as football-only members in '13 (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/20).

ORIGINAL REPORT: ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy cited sources as saying that BSU, SDSU and BYU have “had conversations with Mountain West membership about the possibility of returning to the league.” The talks “originated after last week's decision in Denver by the BCS commissioners to award an automatic access bowl berth to the highest-rated champion to the ‘Group of Five’ conferences.” That decision “in essence put the Mountain West on equal footing, as far as playoff access is concerned, with the Big East starting in 2014.” But a SDSU official said, "Nothing changes, we are committed to the Big East." McMurphy wrote one of the “main reasons” both BSU and SDSU “opted to join the Big East was the draw of more television revenue.” However, it is “unknown how much more the Big East's future media rights will be worth compared to the Mountain West's after losing Rutgers to the Big Ten and another member to the ACC.” BYU, which left the Mountain West after the ‘10 season to become an independent, would have to “get out of an eight-year contract with ESPN to rejoin the Mountain West or Big East” (ESPN.com, 11/19). In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson reports the MWC BOD, consisting of school presidents, will “meet in early December.” No realignment decisions related to the conference “are expected before then, but changes can occur quickly” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 11/20).

TV TIMEOUT: CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd cited sources as saying that there is “a provision in the Houston contract with the Big East that allows it to leave the league without penalty if certain TV revenue numbers aren't achieved.” A source said, "There's not a TV executive in America that's going to offer them (Big East) a TV contract until they can confirm and guarantee who is going to be there in their league" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/19). In Orlando, Matt Murschel writes with “all of this recent news, you wonder if Big East officials aren’t kicking themselves for not taking ESPN’s deal.” It is going to be “a hard sell to a network like Fox or NBC that you still have a viable product especially when there is so much uncertainty in the league” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/20).

WHO'S ON DECK FOR ACC? CBSSPORTS.com’s Jeremy Fowler cited a source as saying that the ACC is “leaning heavily toward adding a 14th team to replace Maryland and has two favorites for the spot -- UConn and Louisville.” The source said that the ACC is “also in talks with South Florida and Cincinnati.” The source said the conference could add "pretty quickly." Factors on the decision include “geography and television market viability, on-field performance and academic success” (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/19). In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes UConn “could bolt the Big East to fill Maryland’s spot in the ACC, reportedly as soon as today.” The ACC would choose UConn over Louisville because of its “market size, which is about all that matters anymore.” Sullivan: “The rich traditions, traditional rivalries and regional flavor of college athletics have about as much relevance nowadays as your friendly neighborhood livery stable” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/20). In Hartford, Paul Doyle writes UConn is “likely to accept an invitation if it is offered.” UConn AD Warde Manuel said, "It's too early for there to be any comment from me. There are too many unknowns. We will continue to monitor the situation and see how it affects our university.” UConn President Susan Herbst yesterday could not be reached (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/20).

PAC-12 GOOD FOR NOW: In L.A., Chris Dufresne asks, “How does Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott see the latest moves affecting his league?” Scott in an e-mail yesterday wrote, "I don't." He added, “I'm not surprised to see other Conferences shuffling, but Pac-12 is in a great position and has no plans to change the configuration of our membership" (LATIMES.com, 11/19).
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