Source: Boise State, Big West in talks
Interim Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey called Big West Conference commissioner Dennis Farrell on Wednesday to gauge interest in taking the Broncos' other sports if they join the Big East in football, a source with direct knowledge of the conversation told ESPN.com.
On the call, Apsey said the Broncos could be in a predicament in looking for a new home for all of its non-football teams, according to the source. The New York Times reported Boise State was one of a handful of schools that met with Big East officials Sunday to discuss joining the league in football only.
The Big West will have a similar arrangement with Hawaii in 2012-13. The Warriors will join the league for all sports except football, which will be in the Mountain West.
Boise State has not been in contact with the WCC, WAC or Big Sky about taking its non-football sports, ESPN.com confirmed. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has said publicly if Boise State football were to leave the conference the school could not keep all of its other sports in the Mountain West.
"In the best interest of Boise State, and without getting specific, we are considering all potential opportunities," Apsey said.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto is expected to meet with Boise State officials Thursday in Boise to lay out why the Broncos and Big East would be a good match in football, multiple sources told the Idaho Statesman. Marinatto had met with Air Force officials Wednesday on a similar mission, The (Colorado Springs) Gazette first reported.
Boise State started in the Big Sky in 1971 before moving to the Big West in 1996. It joined the WAC in 2001, then left the WAC for the Mountain West this season.
The source with knowledge of the Farrell-Apsey call said that Farrell told him the Big West is comfortable at 10 schools but would consider expansion if it made the league better in basketball. Boise State hired former Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice as its men's basketball coach a year ago.
The source said going to 11 schools would be a non-starter for the Big West. If the league were to expand, then it would rather go to 12, 14 or 16. The source said the Big West isn't actively looking to expand, but will take calls.
The source said any expansion would have to make sense geographically. The Big West is a nine-member all-California league with Cal Poly, Cal-State Fullerton, Cal-State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, Pacific, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara. The addition of Hawaii, a former Big West member in non-revenue sports, makes sense with it being one flight away for any Big West member. Hawaii plans on going to San Francisco and/or Los Angeles, then busing to league games. Most Big West road games are bus trips within the state.
The source said the Big West once had expanded for survival, when it was raided by the WAC, but the Hawaii move was more for opportunity. The source said that this time, the Big West is looking at expansion as opportunity, not as a survival move.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.