LOGAN — After looking like a sure thing to be invited to the Mountain West Conference in now appears Utah State will not get an invite, at least for the time being. The MWC has decided not to expand at this time.
After the MWC meetings concluded on Tuesday afternoon, the conference board of directors released this statement on its website.
"Over the past two days, the Board of Directors has engaged in a very thorough discussion of several key topics pertinent to the future of the Mountain West Conference. This has included, but not been limited to, issues related to television, the Bowl Championship Series and membership. The Board feels strongly the membership configuration already established going forward creates outstanding prospects for future success. In addition, we are continuing with our strategic initiatives related to our television partnerships and the MWC's efforts to effect change in the BCS structure.
"The Board is excited about what is undoubtedly a bright future for the Conference."
While that certainly does not spell good news for Utah State today, it is worth noting that the conference released a similar statement when there was speculation that Boise State would join the MWC last June. Four days after releasing the statement, Boise State got an official invite from the MWC and quickly accepted.
For the Mountain West, there is no rush to expand membership, as the league is happy with its 10-team setup for now, and the conference can add teams anytime between now and June 30 in order to have the school for the 2012-2013 school year.
While disappointed by the news, Utah State coaches are not deterred and will continue to work on improving their programs.
"Utah State University will continue its efforts to strengthen the Western Athletic Conference going forward and we will go to work on further evaluating whether or not to expand," USU athletic director Scott Barnes said. "The landscape will continue to change and all of us need to be aware of that. In the meantime, our attention must remain on building strong programs that provide an excellent experience for our student-athletes."
"The decision by the Mountain West Conference to halt expansion at this time is certainly disappointing for all Aggie fans," USU basketball coach Stew Morrill said. "As the saying goes, 'it is what it is,' and now we must go forward with renewed energy and commitment."
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson will reportedly conduct a conference call with members to assess the landscape of the WAC and discuss possible future members among other topics. The WAC is down to just Utah State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, Idaho, and San Jose State as five continuing members. Texas State, and UT-San Antonio are slated to join the conference in 2012. Denver University will also be joining the WAC in 2012 in all sports but football.
The conference needs to add at least one more football playing member to get to an eight-team league and will likely look to expand membership with non-football schools as well. Among the schools the WAC is reportedly interested in are Lamar, Sam Houston State, UC-Davis, Cal-Poly, and Portland State in football with Seattle, Utah Valley, and Cal State Bakersfield in non-football sports.