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June 30, 2015

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Mountain West announces Boise State will remain in the league

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Sam Morris

Boise State tight end Holden Huff smiles after scoring a touchdown against Washington during the 2012 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Boise State won their third consecutive Vegas Bowl 28-26.

As the landscape of the Big East Conference continued to change for the worse, it seemed more and more likely that Mountain West members headed for that league would reconsider.

On Monday, the conference and Boise State made it official, announcing the Broncos will remain a member of the Mountain West in all sports.

“We are very pleased today to announce Boise State University’s continuing membership in the Mountain West Conference,” Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a press release. “Maintaining the Broncos program as part of the already solid foundation we have established creates a posture of great stability for the Mountain West going forward. It also enhances the conference’s competitive and marketplace platforms, positioning us favorably in the evolving FBS landscape.”

Boise State must pay an exit fee to the Big East, despite never playing there. ESPN’s Bretty McMurphy said that it’s $5 million, though that amount could be lowered and the Mountain West may help pay for some of that.

The league will reportedly guarantee Boise the TV rights to its home football games, which will be sold as a separate package from the league’s deal. That’s a lucrative opportunity that was too good for the Broncos to pass up.

This move opens the door for San Diego State to also back out of its Big East commitment and remain in the Mountain West. According to McMurphy, the Aztecs’ Big East deal allows them to withdraw without an exit fee because there are no other Big East members west of the Rocky Mountains, though the league isn’t going to offer the same type of benefits to the Aztecs as it did the Broncos.

On a conference call after the announcement, Thompson said he’s had discussions with SDSU and that the league is looking to add a 12th football team sooner rather than later. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the Aztecs, whose return would be on the league’s terms rather than the school’s, McMurphy reported.

San Jose State and Utah State are set to join the league on July 1, 2013, which currently gives the Mountain West 10 all-sport members and 11 football-playing members.

This includes: UNLV, Boise State, Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, UNR, New Mexico, Wyoming, Hawaii (football only) and the two new members joining this summer.

The most likely move is that the Aztecs also return, and the Mountain West goes from a lost identity to a strong league. As we’ve learned with realignment, though, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or taylor.bern@lasvegassun.com. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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