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WSU baseball, swimming teams join Mountain West as affiliates

Apr. 17—Football will no longer be the only Washington State sport competing in the Mountain West next season.

WSU baseball and swimming will join the MWC as affiliate members, it was announced Tuesday. The agreement will begin July 1.

"Finding a home for our baseball and women's swimming programs has been a top priority for our athletic department and we appreciate the efforts of so many to get to this point," WSU interim athletic director Anne McCoy said in a news release. "This agreement offers both programs a competitive schedule in a west coast-based conference while providing a championship path for coming seasons."

In December, WSU reached a scheduling agreement with the MWC to play six football games against the conference's teams in the 2024 season. The Cougars will not be able to compete for a Mountain West championship in football.

The same month, WSU entered an affiliate agreement with the West Coast Conference for 10 other athletic programs: men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, rowing, soccer, tennis and volleyball. Those teams will be able to compete for conference titles.

Baseball and swimming will also be able to compete for championships in the MWC because affiliate status through the NCAA allows for members to compete for conference and national titles.

These agreements are temporary — for now.

Currently, WSU and Oregon State are the only two programs left in the Pac-12 Conference after this spring. NCAA rules allow the schools a two-year grace period to either rebuild the conference or find permanent homes elsewhere.

The only WSU varsity teams without an announced home for the 2024-25 seasons are the men's and women's track and field teams.

"We are grateful for the patience shown by our student-athletes and coaches as we have navigated this process," McCoy said.

WSU men's hoops inks EWU's Price

New WSU men's basketball coach David Riley will officially be coaching at least one of his former players next season.

The longtime former Eastern Washington assistant and head coach received a commitment from Eagles forward Ethan Price on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-10 junior from Bury St. Edmunds, England, averaged 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for the Eagles last season while helping them to a 21-11 record and a Big Sky Conference regular-season title.

Price was a second-team All-Big Sky honoree last season and the league's freshman of the year in 2021-22.

The incoming senior adds a veteran presence in the paint for a Cougars' squad that lost both its co-starting centers to the transfer portal.

Cluff commits to South Dakota State

One of those former centers, Oscar Cluff, on Tuesday announced he is transferring to South Dakota State.

During his lone season in Pullman, Cluff was a co-starter at center with Rueben Chinyelu — also in the transfer portal — for the Cougs during their historic run to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament this season.

The 6-foot-10 Australian averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He started 23 of WSU's 35 contests and scored a career-high 20 points in a Jan. 4 win over Oregon State.

Cluff started his career at Cochise College in Arizona.

South Dakota State of the Summit League also made the NCAA tournament last season as a No. 15 seed, falling in the first round to Iowa State — the same team that eliminated WSU a round later.

Murekatete signs WNBA training camp contract

WSU women's basketball senior Bella Murekatete signed a WNBA training camp contract with the Phoenix Mercury, it was announced Tuesday.

Murekatete will try to earn a roster spot when the team opens camp later this month.

Murekatete appeared in all 36 games for the Cougars this year, and averaged 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. During the season, she became WSU's all-time leader in career rebounds (990), blocks (188), games played (153) and games started (145). She finished her WSU career with 1,552 points, good for fifth all-time in program history.

The 6-foot-3 center — who hails from Butare Huye, Rwanda, but attended high school at Genesis Prep Academy in Post Falls, Idaho — had her best season as a junior in 2022-23 when she averaged 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

The final date for WNBA teams to cut down their rosters is May 13.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.