Jump to content

BYU looking at leaving Mountain West


Recommended Posts

Rival Utah's move to the Pac-10 has given BYU the impetus to seriously explore the possibility of leaving the Mountain West, going independent in football and re-joining the WAC in all other sports, multiple sources told ESPN.com Tuesday.

BYU, according to sources, was stunned that an invitation didn't come its way as the Pac-10 first invited the Big 12's Colorado and then turned to Utah to become the Pac-12 earlier this summer. The Big 12, which lost Nebraska to the Big Ten as well, decided to stay with 10 members for 2012 and beyond after Texas decided to stay put instead of going to the Pac-10.

According to sources, BYU wants to differentiate itself from Utah, and by making itself the Notre Dame of the West, it could become a national power. Notre Dame is a football independent and in the Big East for all other sports.

BYU and Notre Dame do share some characteristics, as both are religiously affiliated universities (Notre Dame with the Catholic Church and BYU with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and both schools have television affiliations (BYU owns its own network, while Notre Dame has a network deal with NBC). As a result, BYU is seeking an agreement similar to that of Notre Dame, which is granted a Bowl Championship Series bid if it is in the top eight of the final BCS standings.

According to multiple sources, BYU would have to get a gauge from the BCS if it could get access similar to that of Notre Dame -- should it meet certain criteria -- and further explore the financial feasibility of such a move.

In departing the Mountain West, BYU would be leaving a conference it helped found in 1998 along with seven other schools from the WAC. Despite having once turned its back on the WAC, multiple sources say the conference would welcome back the high-profile Cougars' non-football sports to join a league that is striving to remain relevant.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said earlier this summer that the league "would give consideration to" taking back BYU in all other sports were the Cougars to go independent.

The current WAC membership includes Fresno State, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada and BYU's in-state rival Utah State. If BYU were to leave the MWC, then Fresno State and/or Nevada would certainly be possible options for the MWC if it decided to replace the Cougars.

BYU has discussed going independent in all sports for years as evident by local columns in Utah in 2007. But at that time, the option of being a football independent included also being an independent in all other sports where scheduling is much more difficult. That's not the case in this instance where BYU's other sports would be protected, especially in men's basketball -- a program which would have a favorable path to an NCAA tournament berth through the WAC.

According to sources, having all other sports, notably men's basketball assured of a home in the WAC where it has been comfortable and is in its region, would soften any transitional period.

But if BYU can't be assured a seat at the BCS table, the Cougars won't make the move, leaving anxious schools in the WAC and the MWC still waiting to see what its fate may be in the coming months or year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They do have a lot of the infrastructure to pull such a move..but...

There is only one Notre Dame. I don't see BYU as anywere near the talent level, fan base, tradition of Notre Dame. And I can't stand ND, but I don't know how smart of a move this is.

Even ND has thought about joining a conference these last few years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lol they're so mad that the Pac-12 chose Utah without choosing them too.

BYU's best shot is to stay put and wait until the MWC gets an automatic bid, because it's just a matter of time until they do. They need one more team to really step up and be a 9-10 win team consistently every year. It hurts losing Utah, but adding Boise isn't a bad move.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

byu had no chance at that pac-10.. there is no way california would allow them or a baylor into the pac-10.. no way.. byu needs to stay in the mwc with boise, nevada, and fresno and make that a great non bcs conference.. byu leaving is moronic.

The church wants people to watch the football games on it's TV network...but what big name school is going to agree to play a school on a 2nd rate (viewer count wise) network?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The church wants people to watch the football games on it's TV network...but what big name school is going to agree to play a school on a 2nd rate (viewer count wise) network?

it's all about money and their network is in over 50 million homes.. they believe they will make more money if they go on their own and keep all their network money as what was mentioned.. imo it's very shortsighted.. byu got all upset because they were passed by the pac-10 when they should know that colleges like california is not going to let in a religious school like baylor or byu into their conference.. i think if they do leave they will have a very hard time getting the games they want..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SALT LAKE CITY -- Fresno State and Nevada should not expect any parting gifts from the other members of the Western Athletic Conference when the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack leave for the Mountain West.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Thursday that each departing school will have to pay a $5 million fee to his league and wait until 2012 to move after accepting the MWC's invitation and dismantling an agreement the WAC was on the verge of completing with BYU.

The Cougars were in line to rejoin the WAC in all sports other than football, in which BYU would have become an independent.

Benson called Fresno State and Nevada's decision "selfish."

"In a 12-hour period, the WAC went from having a secure and prosperous future to once again not knowing what the future will hold," Benson said in a conference call.

The WAC had already lost Boise State to the MWC earlier this summer. On Wednesday, both Fresno State and Nevada received and accepted invitations to join the Mountain West -- less than a week after WAC members formed a buyout pact intended to keep what was left of the league intact.

Although Nevada did not actually sign the buyout agreement and loyalty pledge, Benson said WAC lawyers believe the Wolf Pack are still subject to the terms of the deal and will seek the money, due 60 days from Wednesday.

"I recommended [the buyout] to the board. I wish at this time I had made it $20 million," Benson said.

And because Fresno State and Nevada didn't declare they were leaving before July 1, Benson said both are obligated to the WAC until 2012. Letting the schools go in time for next season will be up to the remaining six WAC schools.

"Only if the WAC believes that it would be in the WAC's best interest that there would be an early out, would there be an early out," Benson said.

In the meantime, the WAC once again is looking for members. Since it formed with six teams in 1962, the WAC expanded to the point of two eight-team divisions in the mid-1990s before eight schools departed and formed the Mountain West in 1999.

The WAC has managed to persevere through all of the turnover, but Wednesday's departures were a setback, especially if the league and BYU can't rework their agreement for the Cougars to come back, albeit without football.

Benson said the arrangement was for BYU to still play four to six WAC teams per season in football and schedule the remaining openings on its own, taking advantage of the exposure on the school's BYU-TV network.

If the Cougars are still up for it, Benson said the door is open. But he didn't seem optimistic about that possibility, and the Cougars were keeping quiet for a second straight day as they considered options.

West Coast Conference commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said in an e-mail he had contacted BYU to see if the school would be interested in joining his conference but had not heard back Wednesday night. The WCC does not compete in football, which would allow BYU to remain independent and would give the Cougars another potential option if they don't want to join a depleted WAC.

The remaining WAC members are Hawaii, Utah State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Idaho. Benson said the league will look at other schools, including members of the Football Championship Subdivision that may be interested in moving up a division and joining.

"I would expect that we're going to continue to see other movements and additional restructuring across the board," he said. "Obviously as the WAC rebuilds we will need to look at other conferences. Unfortunately over the course of the last 15 years the WAC has done that on a fairly regular basis. When we've done it, we've done it in an aboveboard fashion."

Utah State, which joined the league with New Mexico State and Idaho in 2005, was also approached by the MWC, but the Aggies felt the agreement already in place within the WAC was binding, athletic director Scott Barnes said in an open letter released Thursday afternoon.

"We were simply committed to uphold our agreement with fellow WAC members," Barnes wrote.

While Benson was still seething about Fresno State and Nevada, his remarks softened a little when asked about the moves from the Mountain West's standpoint and MWC commissioner Craig Thompson's quick push to get the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack on board if BYU did in fact leave.

"He has a job to do and I have a job to do. Our jobs are to put our respective organizations in the best possible position for success for our member institutions. I don't look at it as necessarily predatory," he said. "I think we're all chasing the BCS. We're chasing recognition and notoriety and we're chasing the financial benefits that come with the BCS."

Thompson said Wednesday night that adding Fresno State and Nevada was not designed to thwart BYU's departure by weakening the WAC.

Benson had a very different take.

"My opinion, it was very clear to me and to the WAC membership that the Fresno and Nevada invitation was a direct result of BYU's interest of going independent and joining the WAC," he said.

Benson said the WAC also will have to renegotiate its TV deal with ESPN.

Nevada athletic director Cary Groth said Wednesday night that the move made sense for the Wolf Pack in enough ways to jump despite the potential buyout cost and negative feelings from the rest of the league. The Reno school expects to be able to cut travel expenses now that Hawaii and Louisiana Tech will no longer be on upcoming schedules.

"The exposure of the Mountain West also has been a little stronger than the WAC," Groth told The Associated Press. "I'd say those two factors particularly played a role."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...