Aug. 26—As Washington State tries to figure out its conference affiliation future amid the ongoing collapse of the Pac-12 Conference, the Mountain West Conference is hoping the Cougars, and fellow Pac-12-mate Oregon State, will join its 11-team league.
The Mountain West met with WSU's newly formed Athletics Advisory Committee on Thursday to present its benefits of affiliation, the university announced.
Mountain West commissioner Gloria Nevarez and University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes, chair of the Mountain West board of directors, traveled to Pullman for a meeting to highlight why the conference would be a good fit.
According to a news release, Stokes "emphasized that the conference's top priority is the success and well-being of its student-athletes," while pointing to similarities between the MWC schools and WSU.
The MWC includes a mix of land-grant and flagship universities among its 11 members, with six being R-1 designated research institutions.
Nevarez said there was strong support among the conference presidents and athletic directors about WSU joining, and that the league "would welcome WSU with open arms."
It would also be a geographical fit since the conference includes schools from California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
The conference's current membership is Boise State, Air Force, Fresno State, Colorado State, Nevada, UNLV, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah State and Wyoming.
WSU's advisory committee was formed by WSU President Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun to help explore and analyze the school's best options for future affiliation.
Schulz presented three options in the committee's first meeting Aug. 18: applying for membership in the MWC, applying for membership in the American Athletic Conference or expanding the Pac-12.
The criteria the committee are using to evaluate each option are university visibility, competitiveness, student-athlete experience, travel, stability and financial stability, according to a news release.
The Pac-12 currently only has four members left after the 2023-24 academic year: WSU, OSU, Cal and Stanford.
But there are reports Cal and Stanford are being considered for the Atlantic Coast Conference, although nothing has been finalized there.
If Cal and Stanford leave, the possibility of rebuilding the Pac-12 would become quite slim.
Yahoo reporter Ross Dellenger reported AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is presenting to both WSU and OSU as well.
Either conference would be a step down for WSU.
Both the MWC and AAC are Group of Five conferences (also called "mid-major" conferences) rather than a Power Five conference like the Pac-12.
Regardless of where it ends up, WSU will see a major decrease in athletics revenue from TV contracts, but Schulz said the university doesn't plan to cut any sports.
Washington State could lose more than $20 million in annual TV revenue because of the Pac-12's breakup, per Dellenger.
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