Mountain West has no plans to expand

Published 3:54 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mountain West Conference will not expand further to include either Utah State or San Jose State.

The conference board of directors on Tuesday issued a statement saying the configuration already established works best going forward. The decision disappointed officials at Utah State, now a member of the Western Athletic Conference.

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“The decision … to halt expansion at this time is certainly disappointing for all Aggie fans,” Utah State men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill said. “As the saying goes, ’It is what it is’, and now we must go forward with renewed energy and commitment. All the positives of Utah State remain in place. It’s up to all the schools in the WAC to make it a viable conference.”

The Mountain West will have eight members as of July, with BYU and Utah departing and Boise State joining current members TCU, New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming and Air Force.

In July 2012, it will be a 10-team league as TCU departs and Fresno and Nevada join in all sports and Hawaii joins in football only.

There was speculation that the Mountain West would expand to 12 teams, including Utah State and San Jose State. But the board chose against that.

Utah State athletics director Scott Barnes received the news Tuesday afternoon. Barnes said efforts will continue to strengthen the WAC, including whether to expand further.

“The landscape will continue to change and all of us need to be aware of that,” Barnes said. “In the meantime, our attention must remain on building strong programs …”

Utah State women’s basketball coach Raegan Pebley agreed.

“When one door closes another door opens and this is a great opportunity for us to know where we’re at and be able to continue to move forward,” Pebley said. “The Mountain West Conference would have been a great opportunity, but so is the WAC.”

Tuesday’s announcement came at the conclusion of the MWC board’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.