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Mountain West and Conference USA announce merger

By Ferd Lewis

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:37 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2012



Architects of the announced impending merger between the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA said the resulting new conference will bring the University of Hawaii "stability and predictable scheduling with a region they are already well familiar with."

Nevada-Las Vegas president Neal Smatresk, a former UH vice chancellor and current MWC board president, told the Star-Advertiser, that the as yet-unnamed 16-school "intercollegiate athletic association" will mean, "we won't always have to have the discussions about how many new members we have to bring in each year."

The new conference is scheduled to debut July 1, 2013 and could have from 18 to 24 members by then, officials said. UH will be a football-only member and will compete in the Big West Conference in most other sports.

University of Hawaii president M.R.C. Greenwood said, "(UH) is excited and honored to be part of" a new conference that will result from the impending merger of the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA.

Tulane president Scott Cowen, chairman of Conference USA, said, "Hawaii is a great school, great program and we're glad to have them as part of the partnership."

In a statement, Smatresk said, "This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast. 

This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics. We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future."

Cowen told the Star-Advertiser, "We haven't worked out all the details but as we envision it, there would probably be two divisions and those two divisions would look fairly similar to the way the Mountain West looks right now and Conference USA."

The new conference would stretch, in football, from Hawaii to North Carolina and from California to North Carolina in other sports.

The schools currently involved are: the  Air Force Academy, Alabama at Birmingham, Colorado State, East Carolina, Fresno State, UH, Marshall, Nevada, New Mexico, Nevada-Las Vegas, Rice,  Southern Mississippi, Texas at El Paso, Tulane, Tulsa and Wyoming.

Officials said the new entity will be meeting with television partners about a new contract.

The announcement came after a meeting in Dallas Sunday. Plans have been in the works since Sept., 2011 when the intent to merge was announced.






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