Mountain West Renames Championship Football Trophy
* Mountain West Conference press release
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., – The Mountain West announced today that its annual football championship trophy will be named in honor of former Commissioner Craig Thompson, beginning with this season’s title game.
The inaugural commissioner in MW history, Thompson retired in December 2022 after a 43-year career in athletic administration, including the final 24 as commissioner of the Mountain West.
One of the most ardent advocates for the expansion of the College Football Playoff, Thompson was an integral part of the national landscape in intercollegiate athletics throughout his career, holding many prestigious posts on NCAA and sport-specific national committees. He sat on the CFP Management Committee while also serving as a member of the College Football Officiating Board of Managers, LLC. He also served two stints as a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, including Chair in 2000.
Thompson also served as a member of the Executive Committee and the Director’s Cup Committee of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), as well as the governing NCAA Council and various Council subcommittees.
Under his leadership, the Mountain West negotiated nearly $600 million in television revenue to support its member schools. MW teams participated in five Bowl Championship Series (BCS)/College Football Playoff (CFP) bowl games, as well as six inaugural bowl contests. Thompson also led successful member expansion efforts over the years to strengthen the Conference, adding Fresno State, Hawai‘i (for football only), and Nevada in 2012, San José State and Utah State in 2013, and Colorado College for women’s soccer only in 2014.
Thompson was instrumental in strengthening the position of the Conference in the college football landscape – both in the previous BCS format and in the current CFP structure. In 2006, he spearheaded an effort that resulted in better access for the MW and more than doubled the annual BCS revenue on an annual basis for non-automatic-qualifying conferences. With the evolution to the new 12-team CFP format, the Conference’s annual postseason revenue will have quadrupled from the initial BCS distribution levels.
The Conference enhanced its television revenue and exposure under Thompson’s watch. In January 2020, the Mountain West announced a $270 million, six-year media-rights agreement with CBS and FOX Sports. Beginning in 2020-21 and running through 2025-26, football and men’s basketball games will be televised on CBS, CBS Sports Network, Paramount Plus, FOX, FS1 and FS2. FOX Sports also will have exclusive rights to the Mountain West Football Championship game, which will be televised annually on the FOX family of networks.
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