MWC ATHLETICS:

Report: BYU becoming football independent a ‘done deal’

Aftermath of impending Cougars departure could leave Mountain West in bind

It appears imminent the Mountain West Conference will to absorb its second major membership blow in two months, as sources are indicating that BYU will become independent in football and join the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported this morning that the scenario is a 'done deal.'

The pending move would take place in the fall of 2011 and could leave the Mountain West in a bind.

A source in the WAC office told the Tribune that BYU will seek final approval for the move from its owner — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — either today or Thursday. If approved, a press conference will come early next week.

"In light of the media leaks, it may be expedited a bit," the source told the Tribune.

The move to become an independent in football reportedly has been in the works for roughly a month. The major motivation behind it is believed to be displeasure with the Mountain West's TV deal, which paid member schools a mere $2 million in revenues last year.

The process gained steam when in-state rival Utah accepted an invite to the Pac-10 last month, which also will take effect in 2011. The Utes are projected to make more than $15 million annually in football TV revenue as Pac-10 members.

Clearly feeling spurned by the Pac-10 and Big 12 during the expansion frenzy this summer, BYU will look to grow TV revenue from football as an independent by utilizing its own television network, which now has a broadcast center in place.

In essence, the Cougars are going the Notre Dame route. The Irish are independents in football and have a lucrative, exclusive television deal with NBC, while affiliating with the Big East in all other sports.

Now, the Mountain West appears to be handcuffed, in a way.

Boise State is slated to join the league in 2011, which would give the MWC eight members. However, Boise State has the right to change its mind and return to the WAC. In the Tribune's report, the WAC office source confirmed that Boise State could return without facing a penalty.

Further expansion for the Mountain West could be tricky, too, as the remaining WAC schools a week ago signed a five-year agreement that would force leaving members to pay a $5 million buyout during that window. That, obviously, includes Nevada-Reno and Fresno State, who both have been expansion targets of the MWC's in recent months.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 19 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. The ego of BYU never ceases to amaze. Good luck getting any power conference schools to make the trek up to Provo after October 1. Enjoy those October-November home games against Notre Dame, Navy, Army, and scrubs from Conf USA, Sun Belt, MAC, and WAC. That ought to beef up your BCS resume and TV ratings. In the MWC you'd get to play TCU, Air Force, and Boise State late in the season when it matters.

  2. COrebel,

    I, too, think that the Cougars will have incredible difficulty scheduling. But they have a golden opportunity to beef up their annual football TV revenue by a ridiculous amount, and that's what is at the core of all of this. MWC has no one to blame but itself.

  3. COrebel, the BYU Utah rivalry will live in and I bet that game will still be the last game of the season. That's one good team.

    BTW, if BYU can play 4 very good teams, excluding Utah, every season, they are in a better boat than playing UNM, SDSU, UNLV, Colorado State and Wyoming every season. I don't see a very big chancge in their SOS but their revenue will fly through the roof. It's a very very smart decision.

  4. As much as I hate BYU, however as a MWC fan, this whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.

    The MWC consideration for national anything is completely over. This, after all the years of commissioner Craig Thompson and the rest of the AD's standing tall and trying to push through, by standing up to ESPN, not backing down to scheduling conflicts with the big boys, and putting teams like TCU in the national spotlight.

    It's over boys and girls. TCU will bail, mark my word. It will become a Front Range/Rocky Mtn bush league, with likes of Montana, Montana St, Reno, etc. Just wait and see.

  5. It wont make a difference to Boise State because they wont be in their conference anyway for football if they pull out of the MWC. MWC needs to go after UTEP now.

  6. B U S T E R S

  7. Looks like the MW channel destroyed em all in the end.

  8. Looks like the MW channel destroyed em all in the end. Its all about the money. BYU is loaded!!

  9. We're goosed!!!!

  10. Well any Rebel fan should be happy BYU is leaving the conference, so we can be saved a butt whooping every year.

  11. Yep, Reno just got an invite. Just as I figured.

  12. MWC is done.... Boise doesn't HAVE to join the MWC and can stay put. TCU will leave next... We will have to rejoin the WAC with our tails between our legs.

  13. I think its more like the WAC will be done. Some reports say BYU might join the WCC in all sports and be independent in football.

  14. Over a year ago I called Craig Thompson's office to ask them about the tv contract and to clarify some things. I mentioned that people can't watch games and it just doesn't offer viewership bouncing between the Mountain and Versus for games. The MWC office actually was belligerent with me. Needless to say, I was in shock. So, in the end, they've made their own bed...

  15. I could be wrong, but I fail to see how this will significantly impact BYU's TV revenue. They no longer get a share of conference revenue when the MWC gets a BCS bid (don't laugh - for the moment we still have TCU and Boise State, each with a recent history of cashing in on BCS revenue). They will not get an increase in BCS football opponents (other than Utah), so they will not increase the # of TV viewers in non-Mormon households. Their strength of schedule will not get them into the BCS unless they run the table, same as now.

    Notre Dame has NBC. BYU has... BYU-TV. The two do not compare. Can they get more money than they now receive in the MWC? Possibly. Are they going to make big-boy BCS money out on their own like Notre Dame? No way. Non-Mormons outside of Utah do not care to watch BYU sports. And now, neither do I.

    That said, I'm not happy with the direction the MWC is heading. Losing Utah and BYU and adding UNR, Fresno, and Boise does not strengthen our conference. As and others have said, the idiotic mtn-CBSC-Versus TV arrangement is the root of all of our problems. That was a bad idea from the start and it is not looking any better.

    On the plus side, the commentators on "the mtn" can now officially stop kissing the Utah schools' butts. I don't care how many times you tell me how great Jimmer is, I'm not buying it.

  16. The part that irritates me about BYU is that the MTN Network was largely BYU's doing, and Dave Checketts (alum of BYU) was at the driver's seat to get the deal done.....most of the network was pieced together using the former Blue and White network.

    Now, years later, BYU leaves us all with a crappy network, a TV deal that THEY were responsible for, and patronize ALL of us by implying that the TV deal is a big reason why they're moving on.

    Furthermore, when UNLV joined the WAC/MWC, we brought the Big Monday's late night game on ESPN with us. We played in that slot more than any other team, we had our own deal with ESPN, and it was something we appreciated. The conference killed the Monday night deal and ultimately killed the ESPN deal. We HAD a great relationship with ESPN, but because of BYU (and it was mainly them, not the other schools) that relationship is non-existent now....our TV revenues don't even match what we were making before we joined the conference. We've sacrificed to be part of a conference....and now BYU is taking their ball and going home?

    Incredibly selfish and I'm disappointed that my church will allow this selfish act to move forward. I guess its not about being good neighbors when it comes to sports....in sports, coveting thy neighbors house (the Utes in this case) is a-o.k. Because after all its competition, and religion doesn't apply when your biggest Rival will be making more money than you....you've got to throw it all to the side and go after the money to keep up with the Joneses (Utes)!!!!

    What a shame!

  17. rebelx,

    I DO NOT have any good feelings about BYU's sports programs, however, those are harsh comments and accusations that you have given NO evidence of. Be careful what you say when you're upset, you do not have all the facts nor do you know all that they do. To go after the church like that is extremely mean spirited. I too thought that BYU was the driving force behind the current TV deal and am mystified for their reasoning behind them leaving (although it makes sense) but....I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt by waiting to see what comes out of this. Let this marinate a bit before you criticize.

  18. COrebel, couldn't say it any better. BYU is no Notre Dame in any instance with the level of recognition in sports.

    It's just like they were super envious of Utah cause they got to go to the PAC-10, and they didn't get an invite, so they are going to try the road less traveled. BYU is making a really bad decision here, and will not be able to schedule quality opponents, at least not to the level of MWC teams. Also, it's not oging to do their recruiting any favors.

    My guess is that BYU is showing they want to join PAC-10 to keep their instate rival.

  19. It will be funny to watch the mormon mafia go and screw themselves as they have screwed the rest of the league. They make a bad deal, now they will leave the rest of the conference, good. Nobody in the country that is not LDS will watch or care what they are doing, the basketball program is a nothing. Being from a mormon family that has always cheered for the UTES(grandma and grandpa alums)I laugh at the cougers and there scramble to keep up. Good luck MWC, you will be better off without the selfish garbage that is byu.