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Home | Sports | College / NCAA |

2013 Conference realignment: San Diego State gets first choice, MWC schools get huge TV bonuses


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San Diego State Aztecs players celebrate following a 28-9 win against the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

When Boise State made the choice to stay put in the Mountain West Conference as an all-sports member rather than shipping out to the Big East in just football and the Big West in all other sports, San Diego State was put in a tough spot.

The Aztecs had also planned on making the move to the Big East along with Boise State. The goal had been to form a transcontinental league that featured good-to-dominant football programs and elite East Coast basketball. Such a league would draw highly increased television revenue because it had teams in nearly every big advertising market in the nation.

However, now that 14 teams — including, again, Boise State — have left the Big East in the last two years, such a league does not look like it will ever come together.

Thus, with a provision in their contract with the Big East stating that the school does not have to pay an exit fee if there are no other football programs west of the Rocky Mountains, San Diego State is weighing its options.

Like Boise State, the Aztecs may simply elect to stay home and keep all of their sports in the Mountain West.

In a statement, San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk said his school has been “monitoring the ongoing changes in conference realignment.” Sterk did acknowledge Boise State’s decision to remain in the Mountain West, calling it “a significant change in conference realignment.”

The Mountain West just netted itself a new TV deal that should prove far more lucrative. Not only is Boise staying, but San Jose State and Utah State, two up-and-coming programs, will be coming aboard in 2013 as well.

The Mountain West may not even want San Diego State back at this point, preferring BYU, according to reports.

“I’ve been in daily contact with officials from San Diego State and we continue to explore the possibility of the Aztecs remaining in the Mountain West,” Commissioner Craig Thompson said Wednesday.

The Mountain West is also looking at programs such as Houston, UTEP, and SMU. However, San Diego State retains its “right of first option”. Basically, the Aztecs have until January 31. At that point, and only if SDSU has either not made a decision at all or if they have decided to go ahead and join the Big East, the MWC can begin to approach other schools about joining.

The Mountain West is apparently still debating whether or not to expand to 12 or all the way up to 14 schools.

The odd man out in all of this has been Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco. The embattled league leader spoke on “The Tim Brando Show” on Wednesday, stating that the conference “very much wants (San Diego State) to stay. They’re reexamining the situation.”

Other items from Boise State’s contract with the Mountain West, as obtained from ESPN:

• Boise State must pay $5 million to exit the Big East, but Boise State officials believe there are “provisions” in the Broncos’ deal with the Big East that could reduce that amount.

• Boise State’s exit fee to leave the Mountain West would be about $2.5 million to $3 million if provided one year’s notice. If Boise State leaves the MWC with less than one year’s notice, the exit fee doubles.

• Any MWC member participating in a national television game will receive a $300,000 bonus plus another $200,000 if the game is broadcast on Saturday.

• The Mountain West agreed to allow teams in its conference that play in BCS games and the equivalent when the new postseason system starts in 2014 to keep half the money. The rest of the conference will split the other half.

• If the Mountain West has 12 members it will be divided into divisions and a conference championship game will be played at the home of the team with the highest BCS ranking.

• Boise State will be allowed to wear its blue uniforms in home MWC games.

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