Boise State Spurns Big East for Mountain West in All Sports

Boise State University dropped year-old plans to join the Big East Conference and will remain in the Mountain West Conference for all sports.

The Boise, Idaho-based school’s decision, which was announced yesterday in a joint statement on the Mountain West website, comes as the Big East tries to survive several schools’ departures due to lost revenue opportunities associated with a new college football playoff format.

“Without question, conference affiliation has been an odyssey for Boise State, with all the unexpected turns and changes that term suggests,” Boise State University President Robert Kustra said. “The benefits of geographic footprint, revenue, and national exposure have to be balanced against the changing circumstances of conference realignment.”

Boise State said a year ago it would join the Big East in football and the Big West in all other sports.

Even though it never played a game as a league member, it will have to pay a $5 million exit fee to the Big East, though there are contract provisions that may lower the amount and the Mountain West is expected to help with the payment, ESPN said, citing unidentified people.

The Providence, Rhode Island-based Big East will lose its status as an automatic qualifier for college football’s lucrative Bowl Championship Series when a new playoff system begins in 2014. The Mountain West also lacks an automatic qualifier for the playoff.

Still Scheduled

Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and Southern Methodist are scheduled to join the Big East for football in July 2013; Tulane and East Carolina in July 2014; and Navy in July 2015. Those moves would create a 12-team league that also includes Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida and Temple.

Boise State is the most recent school to withdraw from the Big East in the past two years. Texas Christian announced plan to join before moving to the Big 12 instead; Rutgers is moving to the Big Ten; and Louisville is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Big East’s seven non-football schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova -- voted unanimously this month to leave the conference to pursue a new basketball framework.

With the addition of San Jose State and Utah State on July 1, 2013, the Mountain West will have 10 all-sport schools and Hawaii as a football-only school. The other members will be Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, Nevada-Las Vegas and Wyoming.

“Maintaining the Broncos program as part of the already solid foundation we have established creates a posture of great stability for the Mountain West going forward,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson.

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