San Diego State is staying in the Mountain West after all.
The Mountain West informed SDSU that it can remain a member of the conference Tuesday, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger, ending a complicated battle between the two in recent weeks. SDSU will have to cover legal fees the conference incurred while working through the school’s potential withdrawal from the conference as a result.
The Mountain West has informed San Diego State that the school will remain a member, sources tell @YahooSports.
The school will be responsible for covering fees that the conference expensed over legal work during a letter exchange with SDSU about its possible withdrawal.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 19, 2023
SDSU told the Mountain West in a letter last month that it “intends to resign” from the conference next summer. The school sent that letter before July 1 in order to cut down its exit fee from about $34 million to $17 million.
SDSU, however, didn’t have any set plans as to where it would go. The school later asked the Mountain West for an extension on the June 30 deadline to figure that out, which the conference denied. Just before the deadline hit, SDSU told the conference it wasn’t going to withdraw after all.
But the Mountain West wasn’t having it. The conference rejected that letter, saying that SDSU had already formally withdrawn and owed the exit fee. Earlier this month, the Mountain West withheld more than $6.6 million it owed SDSU as the first part of that exit fee payment.
The Mountain West held a board of directors meeting Monday to discuss the matter, though SDSU was not invited. The $6.6 million payment was returned Tuesday.
It’s unclear where SDSU intended to go had it left the Mountain West next summer. The Pac-12 would've made sense as a landing spot geographically, especially as UCLA and USC leave for the Big Ten next summer. The Pac-12 is still working on landing a new media rights deal. The Big 12 could've been an option, too, as it continues to hint that it might expand further. Yet neither league appeared to make a move to bring SDSU in.
The Mountain West’s current media rights deal runs through 2025-26, and both Fox and CBS have rights to football games. Schools receive about $4 million annually through that deal. By comparison, Big 12 schools receive nearly $32 million per year.
While it’s clear that SDSU is eyeing a new home in the near future — and it would likely be a good fit in a Power 5 conference, given how the Aztecs’ football and basketball teams have been performing lately — such a move will have to wait. The Mountain West is, at least for now, keeping SDSU around.