Mountain West Unified, Exploring Option of Adding Programs
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl has been reluctant to offer his thoughts on realignment and the ever-changing landscape of the game he has been involved with for more than four decades.
"That's outside of my paygrade," Wyoming's 10th-year head coach has mentioned numerous times this fall.
The Mountain West Conference Wednesday issued its first public statement since Colorado bolted back to the Big 12. Arizona, Arizona State and Utah have since followed. Fellow Pac-12 members Oregon and Washington have also pulled up stakes, joining USC and UCLA in the Big Ten.
In a nutshell, the league says its 12-member institutions are unified.
Bohl credited that to leadership -- past and present.
"Big shout out to Craig Thompson," Bohl said of the former commissioner, who was with the league from its inception in 1999 to 2022. "There's some foresight that he had as far as maintaining this league together through all the tumultuous times. So, we had one commissioner who's exited that, you know, is still having an impact. Then, you know, I think our current commissioner (Gloria Nevarez), along with (MW Deputy Commissioner) Bret Gilliland, we have really solid leadership down there in Colorado Springs."
Bohl is referring to, among other things, Thompson implementing an exit fee in 2021 for all programs who attempt to leave the conference. That hefty bill sits at $17 million with one year's notice and $34 million for anything less.
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The Mountain West's affirmation comes just 24 hours after CBS Sports reported San Diego State attempted to create a new "Power 5" conference comprised of schools from the Mountain West, the American Athletic Conference and the remaining Pac-12 programs, Stanford, Cal-Berkley, Washington State and Oregon State.
"Everything that is out there is from San Diego State," a Mountain West source told Dennis Dodd Monday of the breakaway attempt. "They've been wanting to be part of the Pac-12 forever. They have a hope and dream that they can take the best of us, the best of some other leagues, re-form and keep, honestly, the [College Football Playoff] designation, reap the 10s of millions of dollars in distributions and resurrect the Autonomous Five in the West."
That plan died after a Monday meeting between Mountain West presidents Monday night, Dodd wrote.
"Monday night, the Mountain West Board of Directors, comprised of our 12 Presidents, met to reaffirm our collective commitment to the Conference and its future," the league's Wednesday statement reads. "With the recent changes in membership composition in several conferences, the Mountain West is exploring all opportunities to strengthen the league, including through the addition of new member schools."
Nevarez, along with New Mexico President Garnett Stokes, are leading the exploration of potential new programs.
"We are strong in who we are and proud of the exceptional experience we provide the student-athletes of the Mountain West Conference," the assertion concludes.
Bohl reiterated Wednesday the bond the coaches around this league have. Again, he pointed to the "savvy" new commissioner, who "has a good pulse of what's going on." All 12 coaches, and Nevarez, posed for a photo at the conclusion of Mountain West Media Days last month in Las Vegas.
"I do think we have a unified league," Bohl said. "I think we're well positioned and there's really good leadership, there's really good coaches and we have really good institutions."
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