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USU athletics director says Aggies didn't recruit BYU to WAC

Published: Saturday, June 9 2012 9:45 p.m. MDT

Read more: Rock: Finally, a break in clouds for Utah State athletics

LOGAN — Two years later, the Utah State Aggies still say they never tried to steal BYU from the Mountain West. Which is a good thing, considering USU is soon to become a member of that same conference.

USU athletics director Scott Barnes said on Friday there remains a misconception of his role in BYU's near-move to the WAC in every sport except football. Furthermore, he said Utah State didn't received an offer to join the Mountain West at that time.

Last month USU accepted an invitation to join the MWC.

Shortly after news leaked in 2010 that USU had been approached by the MWC, stories surfaced that BYU was looking into joining the WAC in every sport except football, where it would remain independent. Some reports said Utah State tried to broker the move.

"First of all, we were never offered a position at the time in the Mountain West. There was an inquiry of interest," Barnes said. "They came and we said, 'No, we have a commitment.' Looking across the table we said we'd stay with what we had. We loved what we had, which included BYU."

He said Utah State wanted to honor its commitment to the WAC, plus it liked the fact BYU would be joining the league in basketball and other sports. The latter never happened. But Barnes said BYU's departure from the MWC wasn't a matter of USU lobbying, or even entirely BYU's dissatisfaction with the MWC's television deal. Rather, it was in response to Utah's move to the Pac-12.

"Why do you think BYU left the Mountain West?" he said. "I think that you've got to believe (it was) Utah leaving for the Pac-12, so the notion that we enticed BYU out of the Mountain West to join the WAC … I mean they were leaving and needed a home."

Barnes said USU's decision not to pursue the Mountain West in 2010 was a good move for several reasons.

"In hindsight, it was the right decision because soon after, we found out if we had said yes, we would not have been (allowed) in. They were looking for football pedigree and we weren't quite there in terms of football pedigree, and not quite there in terms of number of bowl games and whatnot. They were still hoping for AQ (automatic qualifier) status, so they took Fresno and Reno, based on that. So in hindsight, it was the right decision, and obviously holding to our commitment, and now being in (the MWC) feels great."

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