SBD/January 17, 2013/Colleges

San Diego State Follows Boise State's Lead, Will Remain In Mountain West

SDSU can leave the Big East without an exit fee as its only remaining western team
San Diego State AD Jim Sterk yesterday announced that the school "will abandon plans to join the Big East and Big West in 2013, and remain in the Mountain West," according to a front-page piece by Loh & Zeigler of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Boise State’s departure "left SDSU as the sole West Coast team in the Big East." However, it also "opened the door for the Aztecs to leave the Big East without having to pay an exit fee because of a clause in their contract that releases them from their agreement with the Big East if there is no other member of the conference located west of the Rocky Mountains." As SDSU debated its options, Sterk "took trips to Colorado Springs to peruse the Mountain West’s new television contract for football, and participated in the Big East meeting’s most recent meeting in Dallas, Texas last Friday." Sources said that when the Big East "could not guarantee revenue or produce solid projections, the Mountain West became the safer option." The Big East, which has a year remaining in its current TV deal, "almost certainly would have meant more money for the 2013 football season." But anything beyond that "was an increasingly murky proposition." Sterk said that given what he "knew at the time the Aztecs opted to join the Big East, he would make the same decision again." Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said that the league "will retain rights to all SDSU games in all sports." In contrast, SDSU's deal with the Big West allowed it "to retain rights" to its non-conference home basketball games, and this "would have been another valuable source of revenue." The Mountain West ADs will "meet Monday to discuss future plans -- including the possibility of splitting into two divisions, and a football championship game" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/17). In Hartford, Paul Doyle notes while SDSU officials attended the Big East's meeting in Dallas last week, Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco "did not try to persuade the school to come, as conference leaders decided to move on without a western presence" (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/17).

NEW DEAL: In Boise, Brian Murphy notes the Mountain West can "renegotiate with CBS" now that SDSU has been added. Thompson said, "We gave CBS 10 San Diego State football games and 16-18 Top 25 basketball games. There's good solid value in that" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 1/17). ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy noted CBS Sports Network will "have the option to pick up a Mountain West Championship game." Thompson said, "We've been talking to them (CBS Sports Network) every step of the way." He said that the league "hopes to have a conference schedule completed by late April." Thompson: "I'm elated with our 12-team lineup. We got the band back together" (ESPN.com, 1/16).

ONE COAST AT A TIME: ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson wrote, "Let us all hope the Big East comes to its senses now that Boise State and San Diego State are staying where they belong." Their agreement to join the Big East "was never practical." It was "never convenient." What this league "must do is re-focus its efforts and try to become a regionalized brand again, with Texas as its western-most boundary" (ESPN.com, 1/16). ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel writes Aresco has "all but flipped the conference upside down in midair in order to withstand the turbulence of realignment." Now that SDSU has rejoined BSU in the Mountain West, Aresco "may get it done." The "sea-to-shining-sea conference membership was a bad idea, and the Big East has spent a lot of time and money undoing it" (ESPN.com, 1/17).

PATIENCE PAYS OFF: In Reno, Dan Hinxman writes, "Mountain West football will remain a national player after the 2012-13 season." Yesterday was a day "for celebration brought about because Thompson had the wherewithal to remain patient during the conference-realignment tornado that is swallowing up the aggressive-minded Big East" (RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL, 1/17). In San Diego, Matt Calkins writes the "easy move right now is to blame Sterk for this circus and say that he fumbled a snap." He is a "convenient scapegoat." But Sterk's attempts "deserve four words rarely justified in Division I sports: At least he tried." The move offered the program "a chance to step onto the national stage and net the athletic department an estimated $6 million in annual television revenue." But when BSU announced that it was returning to the Mountain West, "rendering the future of the Big East immensely tenuous, Sterk played it safe and followed suit." Calkins: "Ask any poker player -- the hands you fold are just as crucial as the pots you rake in" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/17).
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