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BYU sports: Two years later, WCC happy with partnership with Cougars

Conference wouldn't begrudge them should a better offer become available

Published: Saturday, June 2 2012 7:51 p.m. MDT

On Sept. 1, 2010, BYU and WCC officials announced that BYU was joining the conference.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

PROVO — Back in September 2010, when BYU announced its football program would go independent and most of its other sports would compete in the West Coast Conference, people have wondered how long that status would last.

Many viewed the WCC as a stepping stone to the Cougars' ultimate destination, and BYU is frequently linked to conference realignment speculation.

Like everyone else, WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich reads and hears rumors that have BYU possibly joining the Big 12 or the Big East.

But it's not something he worries about. And, he reaffirmed that the WCC would not stand in the way if BYU — or any other institution — were to decide to leave for greener pastures.

"The reality is, if any of our schools had a qualified offer from a BCS conference that would be transformational for them, the West Coast Conference wouldn't come out with a position that they shouldn't do that, BYU or anyone else," Zaninovich said.

"We understand the landscape. We understand the risk associated with having a school of the football-caliber that BYU is. That doesn't change the decision that we made, or the decision we were to make if that decision were today. But we don't spend much time thinking about it."

Zaninovich said the WCC has a solid foundation.

"Before we added BYU, we were a very strong conference of eight, like-minded institutions, receiving multiple bids on an annual basis to the NCAA Tournament in basketball and other sports. BYU makes us better in that respect. But if something happened to change that, we'd be fine. And BYU would be fine, too. I'm fairly confident that BYU is very committed to an independent football model. Those who understand that institution understand why. And as long as they're committed to an independent football model, we think we're pretty much the perfect fit for their other conference sports."

In March, the WCC announced it will add a 10th member in 2013-14 — Pacific.

Zaninovich said there are not plans currently to expand further, but expansion is always a topic of conversation.

"We have to monitor the landscape. That's the nature of the business. When I first got here, expansion was something conferences did on five-year cycles. That's not the case anymore. It's a daily initiative. We're very happy with the 10 schools we have. It fits a lot of our goals relative to competitiveness, geography, logistics, student-athlete experience, financial model and all of those things with 10 (schools).

"With that said, if there are ways to add value by adding other membership, we have to have our eyes open or else we wouldn't be doing our job. We have an expansion task force that meets on an ongoing basis. This is a very unpredictable environment."

The addition of BYU has also meant the addition of BYUtv, which has broadcast a host of WCC games in several sports.

"BYUtv has been a great partner from Day 1," Zaninovich said. "It's certainly helped the exposure for men's and women's basketball to have that kind of an outlet to broadcast games both home and away. We hope that continues to be a great asset for BYU and for the West Coast Conference."

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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