Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Boise St., San Diego St. finalize moves
By Andy Katz
Boise State and San Diego State will place the rest of their athletic programs in the WAC and Big West, respectively, now that their football programs are heading to the Big East for the fall of 2013, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com.
Boise State will announce Wednesday afternoon that its football program will join the Big East and the rest of its athletic programs will go back to the WAC, a conference it left for the Mountain West Conference this season, according to a source with direct knowledge of the announcement. The WAC is just waiting for the signed contract from Boise State to make it official, according to source.
San Diego State may not be able to announce its addition to the Big West at the same time it says it will put its football program in the Big East because the Big West board of directors still has to approve the move. But a Big West source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com that the Aztecs will get approval to join the Big West once the board meets in the coming days or week.
Boise State will find a newly configured WAC for its men's basketball program in 2013, one that doesn't include former members Fresno State and Nevada (both schools join the MWC for 2012) and Hawaii (which will be off to the Big West).
The 2013 WAC basketball membership will consist of 11 teams: Boise State, Utah State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Denver, Seattle, Idaho, UT-San Antonio, Texas State, New Mexico State and UT-Arlington. The WAC football membership will have seven schools since Denver, Seattle, and UT-Arlington don't play FBS football.
Utah State and San Jose State would appear to be obvious replacements in all sports for San Diego State and Boise State in the MWC. But multiple sources told ESPN.com that the MWC is still weighing whether to expand again as it debates merging with Conference USA. The two leagues announced a football partnership earlier this year but left open the possibility they could merge all programs.
C-USA is losing three members to the Big East -- Houston, Central Florida and SMU -- for the fall of 2013. The MWC will include UNLV, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado State, Air Force, Nevada and Fresno State in all sports, with Hawaii in for football only. C-USA will shrink to Tulane, Rice, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Tulsa, UTEP and UAB.
A possibility still exists that Memphis or East Carolina could still head to the Big East in all sports. Air Force could still go to the Big East in football; if that occurs, Air Force would end up in either the WAC or West Coast Conference for the rest of its programs.
The Big West membership in 2013 for all sports except football would consist of UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Pacific, Long Beach State, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Hawaii and San Diego State. Grabbing the latter two programs will be a huge boost for the Big West in hoops (SDSU) and in baseball (Hawaii and SDSU) as well as women's volleyball (Hawaii).
San Diego State men's coach Steve Fisher and Boise State men's coach Leon Rice told ESPN.com Tuesday that neither had an issue with leaving the MWC and heading to the Big West and WAC, respectively. Fisher said his program is now well established and conference affiliation won't matter and, if anything, moving to the Big West will help the Aztecs in terms of scheduling. Rice is in his second season at Boise State and said that he isn't focused on conference affiliation at all.
Andy Katz covers college sports for ESPN.com.