MWC-CUSA All-Sport Merger in Hands of Lawyers

Last October the Mountain West and Conference USA announced the “consolidation” of the 22 football programs from each league into an “association.”

As first noted last month by Brett McMurphy of and two weeks ago by Dennis Dodd of, the conferences are now entertaining the prospect of merging to form a newly-named conference spanning all sports.

SbB has learned from multiple sources that discussions between the leagues has advanced to the point where the matter has been handed over to attorneys to explore the legal ramifications of such an arrangement. Of particular interest is any legal entanglements that might be presented in the dissolution of existing television contracts involving each league.

While Conference USA and the Mountain West already have TV broadcast deals in place with Fox Sports, ESPN, CBS Sports and Comcast/NBC Universal, a broadcast contract for a newly-branded, 22-team league might provide a more significant windfall for the schools involved - if TV networks agree to tear up existing deals.

A source also indicated to SbB this week that Mountain West conference television outlet The Mtn., has recently informed some of its employees that the network may cease operation - at least as an exclusive Mountain West outlet - after the MWC baseball tournament in late May.

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BYU Confirms WCC Move, Football Independence

Here is the BYU press release on the school departing the Mountain West while taking football independent and moving all other sports to the West Coast Conference:

BYU WCC press release

PROVO, Utah (Aug. 31, 2010) — Brigham Young University today announced it resigned from the Mountain West Conference, effective June 30, 2011.

Additionally, the University announced its football program will compete in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as an independent beginning fall 2011. BYU has accepted an invitation to join the West Coast Conference as a full member for men’s basketball and other sports, beginning the 2011-12 athletic season.

Further information will be provided at a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 1 at LaVell Edwards Stadium beginning at noon (MT). The press conference is available only to credentialed members of the media.

The University will have no further comment until the press conference Wednesday.

Jay Drew of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE and Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS were the first to break the landmark news for the West Coast Conference.

Wilner also noted in his report today the effect the move by BYU may have on the WAC and the Mountain West conference: Read more…

Denver Post: BYU Will Stay In Mountain West

Natalie Meisler of the DENVER POST reports numerous sources confirming this week  that BYU will remain in the Mountain West conference with an announcement coming as early as today. The Cougars had reportedly been contemplating taking their football program independent and moving all of their other sports programs to the WAC.

Report: BYU Staying in Mountain West

When contacted about the Post report, BYU associate athletic direct Duff Tittle told the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: “nothing has changed on our front. We continue to review our options and search for ways to advance our athletic programs.”

Meisler noted that the immediate announcement was preferable to BYU as it would alleviate the conference alignment issue from becoming a distraction next week when the Cougars play Washington in football. Read more…

‘07: WAC ‘Strongly Considered’ BYU Without FBall

In the aftermath of my report yesterday that BYU will decide whether or not to leave the Mountain West Conference by Sept. 1, KSL radio in Salt Lake City reports this morning:

BYU and UTEP WAC tournament game

BYU Associate Athletic Director Duff Tittle declined to comment on Internet rumor, but instead referred to earlier statements from Athletic Director Tom Holmoe saying BYU has been exploring all options and will continue.

Tuesday evening I reported that BYU is seriously considering departing the MWC to go independent in football and join the WAC in all other sports.

When asked about the possibility of welcoming BYU back to the WAC, conference commissioner Karl Benson said to the IDAHO STATESMAN Wednesday morning, “no comment.

But Benson wasn’t nearly as shy about his intentions to bring BYU back to the WAC on Nov. 8, 2007. Read more…

Sources: BYU Bolting MWC Before September 1?

On July 31, venerable SALT LAKE DESERET NEWS columnist Dick Harmon made a compelling case that BYU would do well to leave the Mountain West Conference and go independent.

Will BYU football go independent?

With BYU’s MWC conference partner Utah gone to the Pac-10 and the school stuck in a TV deal worth a paltry $1.5 million per school - and no prospect of an immediate increase - Harmon reported that the Cougars were indeed seriously exploring that prospect.

One major reason behind the move would be existing television infrastructure available to BYU per its ministry broadcasting operation. Per Harmon, those assets include:

  • A state-of-the-art, high-definition TV studio near completion east of the Marriott Center on campus, one that will rival anything the networks have in media centers in Los Angeles and New York.
  • A high-definition TV truck for production and broadcast of sporting events. This truck is the most up-to-date found anywhere in the western United States and a tool ESPN would love to rent for events centered in the West.
  • BYU-TV, an up-and-operating station that is available on the basic entry platform of DirecTV and Dish Network and some 200 cable companies worldwide.
  • In the U.S. alone, this represents exposure to 60 million households and an estimated 40 million more in countries in South America.

For context, that infrastructure is light years ahead of what the Univ. of Texas, which will eventually launch its own cable channel, has in place. Then there’s this recent quote from BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe when asked about the school’s future conference affiliation:

“BYU’s been working on this for three years. We’re in an unusual position of being in the middle of things, but not on the internal area of things.

“Instead of being acted upon, we wanted to be proactive. On the other hand, we’re not Notre Dame. We can’t make demands, and we don’t have multiple invitations. So we try to make the best of this jigsaw puzzle and position ourselves now and for the future.”

Today I was told by a Salt Lake media source that BYU is indeed seriously pondering bolting the Mountain West conference. But the move would not be to go wholly independent. Read more…

Report: Mountain West Adds Boise St. To League

ESPN’s Joe Schad reports Friday that the Mountain West conference will add Boise State as a league member.

Boise State will be announced as the next member of the Mountain West Conference on Friday, a source with direct knowledge of the pending move told ESPN’s Joe Schad.

MWC commissioner Craig Thompson hinted at an expansion announcement on Thursday amid news of Colorado’s move from the Big 12 to the Pac-10.

Some may read into this that the MWC made the move after recognizing that other schools, like perhaps Kansas, would not be available as expansion candidates. But I’m not so sure a school like Kansas ever was a candidate to join the Mountain West anyway. Read more…

In The MWC, We Really Feel The National Anthem

Hey man. You cool? You look cool, man. Don’t be narc-ing on me or nothin’, all right? Let’s all just be cool. You got any of the good stuff on you? Aw man, you’re sober? Here? Now? Too bad, man, you’re totally missing out.

Keep on Rockin' in the Free World
(Lady Liberty’s reaching me! This is the most intense anthem EVER!)

Don’t look at me funny; I get kinda ‘noided out when people start looking at me funny. Totally harshing my mellow. Like, it’s cool if you’re allergic to LSD or whatever, I got a cousin like that who won’t touch the stuff, that’s cool man! That’s cool. I’m just sayin’, you haven’t lived through the Star Spangled Banner ’til you expand your mind. Aw, hold on, hold on, the show’s about to start! Here we go! This is gonna roooooooooooock!

Read more…

Blog-O-Rama: Joakim Trying To Be American Idol?

• JOE SPORTS FAN finds Bulls rookie Joakim Noah trying to salvage his season - by trying out for ‘American Idol’?

Joakim Noah American Idol look-a-like

• RANDBALL examines the Johan Santana trade from the Twins’ point of view.

• WITH LEATHER is bored by the Bard, as NPR offers up Super Bowl Media Day as if written by William Shakespeare.

• AWFUL ANNOUNCING knows it’s always trouble when tigers & frogs mix it up on the Rockets’ court.

• INTENTIONAL FOUL looks for the remote, as they turn off their choices for most pathetic Super Bowl commercials. Read more…