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USU Athletics: Aggies officially join Mountain West

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, July 1 2013 1:00 p.m. MDT

LOGAN, Utah – After accepting an invitation for its athletic programs to become members of the Mountain West on May 4, 2012, Utah State University officially became a member of the conference as of Monday, July 1, 2013.

Utah State’s football team will be the first squad to play a Mountain West conference game when it plays at Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 7. USU’s volleyball team will begin Mountain West play at home against Boise State on Wednesday, Sept. 18, while USU’s women’s soccer team will begin Mountain West play at Nevada on Thursday, Sept. 27. Utah State’s first Mountain West home football game will be Saturday, Oct. 12, against Boise State.

For the past eight years (2006-13), Utah State has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference and has produced 26 regular season conference team championships, including four in men's basketball, men's outdoor track and field, and women’s soccer; six in men's cross-country; three in men's indoor track and field; two in women's cross-country; and one in football, women's indoor track and field, and volleyball.

“Our student-athletes now have the opportunity to compete and grow on a much larger national stage, while enjoying the benefits of competing with institutions closer in proximity,” said USU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes. “Certainly our alumni and friends will have more opportunities to follow their Aggies on the road in league play. We are grateful for the platform the WAC provided us to grow and excel, and we look forward to the new challenges that are just ahead of us in the Mountain West.”

The Mountain West provides a first-class athletic and academic experience for more than 5,100 student-athletes each year. Over the past 14 years, 41 Mountain West student-athletes have earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, and since the league’s inception in 1999, an additional 28 student-athletes have been named MW Scholar-Athlete of the Year and awarded league-sponsored postgraduate scholarships.

The MW has produced 793 All-America selections among its 18 sponsored sports — men’s swimming was discontinued as a conference sport following the 2010-11 season — in the last 14 years, including a league-record 83 All-America honorees in 2010-11. A total of 131 MW student-athletes have also earned Academic All-America accolades in that span. The Mountain West has sent at least 25 teams to NCAA postseason events in each of the past 14 years, capturing three team national championships in women’s cross-country and producing 33 individual national champions in men’s golf, men’s cross-country, and men’s and women’s indoor track and field and outdoor track and field.

Mountain West members have participated in 56 bowl games under the league umbrella, including four appearances in BCS games. The MW has earned 68 postseason bids in men’s basketball, including 38 NCAA tournament appearances and two NIT Final Four berths. MW women’s basketball has tallied 60 postseason slots, including 32 NCAA bids, five Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite Eight berth since 2000. Wyoming won the MW’s first WNIT championship in 2007 with a win over Wisconsin. In women’s volleyball, the MW has had 36 NCAA bids with eight Sweet 16 berths and one Elite Eight appearance. Women’s soccer has earned 27 NCAA bids since 1999, with two Sweet 16 berths and one Elite Eight appearance. MW men’s golf has had at least four representatives in 13 of the last 14 NCAA Golf Regionals, while women’s golf has had at least three teams participate in NCAA Regionals 11 of the last 14 years.

Among its many achievements in 2012-13, the Mountain West sent a record five football teams to bowl games for the sixth consecutive year, and a league-record seven Mountain West men’s basketball teams participated in postseason action, including a record five squads in the NCAA tournament, marking the 13th time in 14 years the conference has sent multiple teams to the Big Dance.

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