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BYU To Leave MWC for WCC – More WCC Expansion Coming?

Category: Featured News, WCC Expansion & Realignment

They waited until the deadline, but an official announcement is expected soon that BYU will join the WCC for all sports excluding football. The football program would participate as an independent.

The rationale for BYU leaving the MWC has publicly been their discontent with the current Mountain West television contracts. However, the MWC has been just on the cusp of gaining a BCS automatic berth, something that would greatly boost BYU football revenue. The conference lost Utah, but replaced them with Boise St., a school that has performed better than any non-BCS school during the BCS conference evaluation period. There was an argument to be made that the addition of Boise St. as a replacement for Utah made the conference even stronger.

Behind the scenes though, there has been speculation that Utah being so openly accepted by the Pac-10, and that schools immediate financial boost, while BYU was never even considered, was a big reason for the BYU drama. Hell hath no fury like an in-state rival scorned.

The move of BYU to the WCC could also put the WAC in even more of a tough spot. The conference has been expecting a $10 million payday via exit fees from Nevada and Fresno St., two schools that left the WAC for the MWC and ultimately caused BYU to pass on the WAC option called “The Project”. But this same agreement created by BYU, which created the exit fees, seems to have been contingent on BYU joining the WAC. This one will likely make it to the courts as the WAC feels both schools owe the money, while the schools now have a stronger legal reason to decline making payments.

Meanwhile, the Mountain West now finds themselves at 10 schools. It’s a comfortable number that will allow a 9 game conference schedule. But at this point, it might not be a shocker is the MWC expanded to 12. Utah St. is a candidate that could make up a part of the loss of Utah and BYU from the Utah market. Houston has been considered as it would give access to the conference to that market. CUSA member UTEP could be an option as well. Any moves by the MWC will likely be based on the effect of BYU’s departure will have on the television contracts. So it’s just as likely that no more MWC expansion will occur.

And then there is the clear winner…the West Coast Conference.

The WCC is now at 9 members with the BYU addition.

The WCC has considered expansion before with such schools as Pacific and Santa Barbara, as well as Seattle. It has been made clear though that the conference has only considered private/faith based schools that meet the conferences general profile.

The WCC has also hinted that if they expand, it will always be done to maintain a balanced membership: 8 schools or 10 schools. With the addition of BYU, there could be room for a 10th school now.

If further expansion were to happen, there are likely only 2 candidates that fit the basic criteria:
* faith based school
* western location
* metro DMA

Seattle University will be working hard to be invited. The school has tried already and been unsuccessful. But the Seattle market might be even more appealing now that Salt Lake City is in the mix. The addition of Seattle would give the WCC schools in Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Salt Lake City, Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego.

The other school that could fit the 10th spot would be Denver.

Denver has for long been out of place in the Sunbelt due to it’s location. But there haven’t been many options for Denver as they don’t sponsor an FBS program. Had they, the WAC or MWC might have been options. Had they had FCS football, the Big Sky would be a fit.

With the addition of BYU, the WCC has a decision to make:

* Remain at 9 schools with BYU
* Expand to 10 with the Seattle market (Seattle University)
* Expand to 10 and push the WCC footprint further east into Denver
* The least likely option…add Seattle, Denver and add a 12th school such as Pacific

And while this happens, more tears are shed in the WAC offices as they cross their fingers that they can entice FCS schools like Montana, Sacramento St., Texas St. and UTSA to join. Ouch.

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  • I am really excited about WCC basketball with the addition of BYU (no sarcasm). I cannot believe Seattle U. brings that much of a commitment to athletics compared to U of Denver. I don't think Denver is church enough for the WCC.

    As to the WAC, without BYU, the conference looks sickly. I think Hawaii leaves the WAC and joins the Big West for everything but football, which would be an independent.

    Without BYU, I do not see a reason for the MWC to take Utah State. I think the MWC is more likely to either sit tight (and let the Big 12-2 implode) or grab Houston and a CUSA school to be named later (most likely UTEP). The problem with Houston is the tremendous lack of student interest and general population apathy.

  • Oh boy

    The WAC is back on life support. They have six schools and they better hope that the Mountain West does not expand any further. If they go down to five, they are probably done. The Mountain West might say that they are fine with ten members as long as Boise State is one of them. The West Coast Conference is up to nine members after being one of the few conferences that still had just eight members. They would probably only expand to ten, so it would be down to Seattle and Denver for the tenth seat at the table. Denver might be at an advantage being an established member of Division 1. Seattle has yet to complete its transition. They also have Joe Scott running the Princeton offense there. They have never been to the NCAA Tournament. However, they have never been in a conference with this kind of profile. They would make this move in a minute if offered. We, as always, shall see what happens.


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