SBD/January 3, 2013/Colleges

Boise State To Stay In Mountain West; Conference Tweaks TV Deal

Boise State stands to gain the most from the MWC's new TV bonus structure
Boise State announced Monday that it will "remain an all-sports member of the Mountain West after negotiating revenue terms that should favor the Broncos and their highly ranked and coveted football program," according to a front-page piece by Brian Murphy of the IDAHO STATESMAN. Under terms of the new agreement with the MWC, the TV rights to BSU's "home football games will be sold separately from the league's current package, which is with CBS Sports." CBS will have "first pick of Mountain West games, but Boise State's games on the blue turf will not be included." The MWC said that those rights "will be packaged with other league inventory shopped to other networks, with the revenue going to the conference." Though BSU will not "collect money directly from the sale of its home football games, the athletic department stands to benefit the most from the league’s new national TV bonus structure." Teams that play in games on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN or ESPN2 will "earn $300,000 per game." If the game is "on a Saturday, the teams will earn an additional $200,000." Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said, "The more you play on national TV, the more revenue you will be receiving." Murphy reported an "enhanced television rights package was one of the biggest reasons Boise State agreed to join the Big East." But that "disintegrating league still does not have an agreement, and with the announced departures of Louisville and Rutgers, along with seven basketball-playing Catholic schools, its television value has been shrinking." BSU is "on the hook for a $5 million exit fee to the Big East, but there are provisions to lower that amount." Thompson said that the MWC would "help BSU pay exit fees to both the Big East and Big West." BSU will "not have to forfeit any revenue distribution from the Mountain West this year, or pay an entrance fee." Meanwhile, the school gets to "start wearing all-blue uniforms at Bronco Stadium again, a sore spot for BSU under its original agreement with the league" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 1/1).

CIRCLING THE WAGONS: Wyoming AD Tom Burman said that BSU's decision to stay in the MWC "is a good thing for his conference, and therefore a good thing for his school." Burman said, "It obviously enhances dramatically our stability as a conference. If Boise doesn't choose to stay in the Mountain West and chooses to stay in the Big East, there is going to be this ongoing tug-of-war between members trying to be the premier non-BCS league. By maintaining Boise, and maintaining our stability, I think we have solidified our position as that premier league." In Wyoming, Ben Frederickson noted BSU's special home-game TV rights "has some Mountain West loyalists upset." Burman said, "I understand their frustration with Boise. But Boise deserves to be viewed a little differently than many programs. What they have done in the past 10 years is pretty remarkable" (CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE, 1/1). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes BSU "merely followed a script that has been the cornerstone of schools shifting from one league to another, making decisions on what each believes is best for its institution while getting the sweetest deal possible along the way." The MWC "blinked first and was smart to do so." The conference has a "huge opportunity ... to solidify itself as the nation's fifth-best football conference and perhaps better in given years" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/3). In Denver, Terry Frei wrote under the header, "Mountain West Benefits By Return Of Boise State." Frei noted how a "strengthened" MWC helps regional programs (DENVER POST, 1/2). Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski writes by "reconciling with the Broncos, Thompson and the Mountain West chiefs did what's best for the kids." Recent arrivals Utah State and San Jose State "will grow up in a happy home, at least until the Pac-12 decides to become the Pac-14" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/3).

BIG EAST NOT WILLING TO GIVE UP AS MUCH: The AP's Ralph Russo reported the Big East "tried to work a deal to keep Boise State on board, but was 'unwilling' to give the Broncos the deal that kept them in the Mountain West." Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said, "We explored a lot of different ways to keep them. No question. Ultimately, we were unwilling to do the things they wanted. Our membership was unwilling to make the deal the Mountain West made with them" (AP, 1/1). Aresco added, “We did everything we thought we reasonably could to keep them. There were some things … that we simply were unwilling to do as a conference to keep them. We recognize their value, but we just felt in the end that it would be unfair to the overall membership" ("The Tim Brando Show," Yahoo Sports Radio, 1/2). ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson wrote BSU "had to do what was in its best interest." In this era, it is "every program for itself and every coach and athletic director for himself." So while BSU "practiced a bit of self-preservation Monday, the Big East was dealt another blow, losing its 14th school in the past two years." BSU "finally got a deal that will help the program move forward." Adelson: "Unfortunately, the Big East takes another step back in the process" (ESPN.com, 12/31).

EYES TURN TO THE AZTECS: In San Diego, Stefanie Loh noted with BSU's "fate decided, the focus is now on San Diego State." As recently as last week, when "reports speculated that the Broncos’ return to the Big East was imminent, San Diego State officials maintained that the Aztecs were committed to joining the Big East in 2013." However, Thompson on Monday said that the MWC has "been in contact with SDSU about a possible return." He said, “We’re talking to San Diego State. We have been. Among other institutions.” Thompson added that the league has "had contact with 'three to five' other schools" recently. Thompson "played down" an ESPN.com report that stated that the Aztecs "would only be welcomed back to the Mountain West on the league’s terms." Thompson said that "any potential return by the Aztecs would be based on a mutual agreement, but pointed out that each member school negotiates its own individual agreement with the league, and that no two agreements are identical" (UTSANDIEGO.com, 12/31). Loh today notes BSU's new contract with the MWC "includes a clause that could help the Aztecs get back into the league if they choose to do so." The contract states the league “will extend an option for San Diego State University to join the MWC on terms mutually agreed between SDSU and the MWC and to join or decline before offering membership to any other institution" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/3). Aresco said Big East officials "very much want" SDSU to stay in the conference. Aresco: “We've been in close contact with them, we’ve been talking to them pretty regularly. I don’t think the situation will play out over a long period of time. But we want them to stay, and they’ve always expressed a willingness to stay" ("The Tim Brando Show," Yahoo Sports Radio, 1/2).

POWER IN THE PAYOUTS: The IDAHO STATESMAN's Murphy yesterday reported BSU's "next trip to college football's elite bowl games ... promises to be even more lucrative" than BSU's previous two Fiesta Bowl appearances. That is because of "a change in the Mountain West's postseason payout formula, one that was instituted as a part of Boise State's agreement to remain an all-sports member of the league." BSU President Bob Kustra in a statement on Monday said, "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." Murphy noted the rule is "not specific to Boise State; any Mountain West team would benefit from the change" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 1/2). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote the "unique approach -- perhaps the first of its kind -- was discussed by the MWC before Boise State decided to remain with the conference." Under the plan, a conference champion that "plays in a playoff bowl could earn an extra $2.5 million-$3.5 million." The figure is a "modest rise in the amount distributed under the current BCS structure" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/2).
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