Boise State has backed out on a commitment to join the Big East and will remain a member of the Mountain West in 2013 — and San Diego State could be next to reverse course.
Boise State and the Mountain West announced Monday they had come to an agreement to keep the Broncos playing in the league they have been a part of the past two seasons.
“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 in statement. “The benefits of geographic footprint, revenue, and national exposure have to be balanced against the changing circumstances of conference realignment. I am confident that our Mountain West membership is the very best decision for Boise State University, our student-athletes and our incredible fan base.”
Boise State, which left the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West after the 2010 season, is still on the hook to pay a $5 million exit fee to the Big East, though the school says there are “provisions” that could make it less. Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said the conference will help Boise State pay its exit fee.
“We are disappointed that Boise State has decided not to join the Big East Conference,” commissioner Mike Aresco said. “The conference is comprised of a group of superb institutions with outstanding athletic programs. We look forward to a dynamic future with our new alignment beginning in 2013.”
The Broncos were scheduled to join the Big East next year for football only. Boise State’s other sports were going to compete in the Big West. But more recent defections from the Big East made Boise State reconsider. And the Broncos were able to cut a sweet deal with the Mountain West that could allow Boise State to cash in on its popular and perennially powerful football program.
“As I’ve stated many times, I have had the utmost trust that the university would make the right decision in what is best for Bronco football and all our sports at Boise State,” football coach Chris Petersen said in the statement. “This innovative proposal to get football the maximum exposure on national television will be a tremendous boost to our program as we continue to grow the Bronco brand.”
The Mountain West recently restructured its television deal with CBS Sports Network to allow the conference to sell games to other national networks. The deal, which runs through the 2015-16 season, will net a $300,000 bonus for schools that appear on ESPN, ESPN2, NBC, CBS or Fox, with an additional bonus of $200,000 for a Saturday game.
Under its new agreement with the Mountain West, Boise State home football games will not be part of the current or future Mountain West television rights contracts, Kustra said. The school’s home games will be sold separately by the conference and the university and revenue will be distributed among league members. But Boise State can make extra money by being on national television more often than its conference mates.
Kustra also said in his statement the Mountain West has agreed to a “system whereby any member whose football performance results in payments from the BCS to the conference will share directly in those revenues on a 50/50 basis.”
The school said the conference also agreed not to impose uniform restrictions on Boise State. So the Broncos can go back to wearing blue while playing on their blue-turf home field. The Mountain West had prohibited those uniforms because opposing coaches complained that it gave the Broncos an unfair advantage.
Boise State will give the Mountain West 11 members next season, along with Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State, Utah State, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV and Hawaii for football only.