The move ended months of speculation surrounding the future of Boise State.
The school was expected to join the Big East on July 2013, but turmoil surrounding the future of the league had some speculating that school officials weren’t completely sold on the move.
“Without question, conference affiliation has been an odyssey for Boise State, with all the unexpected turns and changes that term suggests,” stated Boise State University president Robert Kustra. “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 was expected to join San Diego State, UCF, SMU, Houston and Memphis this upcoming season in the Big East. With Tulane and East Carolina set to join in 2014 and Navy in 2015. However, the league has been on shaky ground with the announcement of the departures of Rutgers and Louisville and the move by the seven Catholic basketball schools to break away and form their own league.
“We are very pleased today to announce Boise State University’s continuing membership in the Mountain West Conference,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson. “Maintaining the Broncos program as part of the already solid foundation we have established creates a posture of great stability for the Mountain West going forward. It also enhances the Conference’s competitive and marketplace platforms, positioning us favorably in the evolving FBS landscape.”
Boise State’s decision to remain in the Mountain West is a coup for the league which recently restructured its current television deal with CBS. The new arrangement allows them to sell off parts of their package to other networks as well. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, that could increase the deal by $25 million.
On the flip side, the move cripples an already weakened Big East which has been trying to work out a new television deal with several different networks. The league turned down a lucrative offer from ESPN which in hindsight was a poor decision.
With Boise State’s growing national footprint, the Broncos were to be the crown jewel of the league’s expansion plan. Without them, the Big East must try and convince a network executives that a conference that features more Conference USA teams than original Big East members is viable and attractive.
The move could also start a chain reaction where other schools may be second-guessing their decision to join. UCF officials have remained committed to join the Big East.
"Although the decision is disappointing, we are committed to the Big East and will work with conference leadership and member institutions to create a bright future for UCF's student-athletes and fans," said Grant Heston, UCF's associate vice president for communications and public affairs Monday.
Boise State, meanwhile, would still have to pay a $10 million exit fee despite not having played a single down in the league according to ESPN.com. Sources have indicated that the Mountain West would be willing to help pay some of that fee.
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