CUSA & Mountain West to Form New Conference
Update: It is official. CUSA and the Mountain West will both fold their conferences and merge under a yet to be named conference name. Member ship could still grow with schools such as Temple, Utah St., San Jose St. and others as potential candidates.
With Memphis no longer in the mix as they head for the Big East, Conference USA and the Mountain West can now progress with their merger plans. As there appear to be no more pending departures, the two conferences, hoping to find some stability in the form of an alliance or merger, can finally do so without the threat of another school leaving. That is of course assuming that Air Force does indeed opt to remain in the Mountain West and does not join Navy (as well as SDSU and Boise St.) in the Big East for football.
Later this week, the CUSA Board of Directors have planned to meet to discuss all aspects of a Mountain West merger.
On the table include what is the front-runner idea at this point: an all-sports merger. The merger would combine 15 schools for all-sports with Hawaii for football only.
Likely divisions would include:
West: Hawaii*, Fresno St., Nevada, UNLV, New Mexico, Air Force, Colorado St., Wyoming
East: UTEP, Tulsa, Rice, Tulane, USM, UAB, ECU, Marshall
Another option remains to merge for a football alliance, but that would mean that CUSA would need to remain at 8 with no new invites and the Mountain West conference would likely need to add Hawaii as an all-sports member or invite Utah St. as the 8th all-sports member to remain a stable Division 1 conference. Such a situation would leave (2) 8 school conferences for non-football sports and 17 schools for football. This is a less likely scenario to happen versus a full, all-sports merge.
Many will look at the distance between schools and the schools comprising the merged conference and question the move. But it’s the strength in numbers that remain the primary driver behind the merge. A single voice will do more to keep the member schools in the conversations with the current BCS conferences, while as two separate entities, the political power will be minimal. With 16 schools from 13 states, the conference will at least have political power behind it, since it will not have the best media markets to help boost the television revenue.
For a glimpse as to what this conference would look like, here’s a map:
View CollegeSportsInfo.com CUSA / Mountain West Conference in a larger map