USU Athletics: Aggies officially join Mountain West

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

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

Utah State fields teams in 16 different sports including seven men's sports of basketball, cross-country, football, golf, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and tennis. The nine women's sports are basketball, cross-country, gymnastics, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. The Mountain West sponsors all of those sports except gymnastics, as well as sponsoring baseball, women's golf, and women's swimming and diving.

San Jose State also joins Utah State as the newest institutions of the now 11-member conference (12 for football). Mountain West membership for the 2013-14 season includes Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming. Hawai'i is also a football-only member of the Mountain West. The Mountain West, which is based in Colorado Springs, Colo., was founded with eight members in 1998.

Utah State and San Jose State will be able to continue their longtime rivalry as both schools were members of the Big West Conference from 1979-1996 and then were reunited in the WAC in 2005. The two programs will be meeting for the 36th time on the football field this fall, while the basketball teams have met 72 times.

Utah State will also renew some old rivalries from its days as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (1916-37) and the Mountain States/Skyline Conference (1938-61) when it competed against current MW schools Colorado State, New Mexico and Wyoming. All-time, USU and CSU have met 68 times on the gridiron and 83 times on the hardwood. USU and UW have faced one another 63 times in football and 66 times in basketball, while USU and UNM have played one another 23 times in basketball and 18 times in football.

Utah State will also realign with current WAC members Fresno State, Hawai'i and Nevada as USU has played the Bulldogs 27 times in football and 51 times in basketball, the Wolf Pack 22 times in football and 44 times in basketball, and the Warriors 12 times in football.

Another familiar opponent that will return to USU's schedule is UNLV as the two schools were both members of the Big West Conference from 1983-1996 meeting on the basketball court 30 times and on the football field 20 times.

Utah State has been a Division I-A/Bowl Championship Series football playing school in each of its 115 seasons of competition. USU joined the Mountain States Conference in 1938, which evolved into the Skyline Conference until 1961. Utah State then played as a football independent from 1962-77 when the Aggies became members of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1978. The PCAA changed its name to the Big West Conference in 1988. Following the 2000 season when the Big West Conference no longer sponsored football, Utah State spent two years as an independent (2001-02) and two years in the Sun Belt Conference (2003-04) before joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2005.

Utah State's basketball team played in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference from 1918-37 and the Mountain States Conference from 1938-62, followed by independence from 1963-78. USU was then a member of the PCAA/Big West Conference from 1979-2005 before joining the WAC for the 2005-06 season.

Utah State football has played in eight bowl games, winning the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl and the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, while Utah State men's basketball has appeared in the NCAA tournament 20 times, reaching the Regional Finals in 1970.

Utah State's men's basketball program is one of just five schools nationally to record 14-straight 21 wins seasons joining Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas and Syracuse, and has advanced to 13 postseasons in the last 14 years. USU's women's basketball team has advanced to postseason play in each of the last three years, participating in the Women's National Invitational Tournament twice and the Women’s Basketball Invitational once, while its women's soccer program advanced to its second-straight NCAA Tournament in 2012.

Utah State's success has not been limited to the playing fields as the Aggies have annually been among the league leaders in academic all-conference selections. During the 2012-13 academic year, Utah State led the WAC with 209 academic all-conference honorees, and USU has led its league in academic all-conference recipients in 14 of the past 15 years including in each of its eight years in the WAC.

Utah State also has a Graduation Success Rate of 82 percent and its 400-plus student-athletes have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.17.

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