Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Craig Thompson is entering his 16th season leading the Mountain West. He’s the only commissioner the league has ever had, and on Tuesday at the Cosmopolitan he briefly discussed that past before moving to the topic the assembled media was more interested in: the future.
Many conversations about the future of college athletics are broken into the haves and the have-nots. The Mountain West is part of the latter, one of the five FBS-level conferences that could be left behind if the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC would decide to form their own league.
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“It’s not a tipping point,” Thompson said, “… but it is a precarious position because of the unknown.”
A lot of things are coming to a head at the same time, with Thompson saying that the next three to six years could be spent as much in courtrooms as on the court. The class-action lawsuits, attempts to unionize and public support to pay players are all going to have an effect on how the collegiate sports system is run.
At this point, it’s impossible to say exactly how the Mountain West will fit into that landscape. One big hurdle that’s coming in the near future, Thompson said, is covering the cost of attendance.
Assuming the NCAA approves it, and league commissioners all seem to think they will, this one is seen as a victory for the athletes. It’s not exactly paying players, but it does ensure that a full scholarship will actually mean what it says as opposed to leaving them with extra costs.
Thompson said he believes the Mountain West programs will be able to cover that extra expense, although he admitted that with nine days until another new wrinkle there aren’t clear answers.
That change is unlimited snacks, which are now allowed but not required by the NCAA. It goes into effect on Aug. 1, and Thompson said that Mountain West teams are still comparing notes on how they plan to pay for the extra food, as well as logistics like where to keep them.
“It’s a real challenge,” Thompson said. “We’re working to develop best practices.”
Outside of paying players, offering the best unlimited snacks, and maybe eventually unlimited full meals, is one possible way the Big 5 conferences — Thompson calls them the “high-resource” leagues — could separate themselves in the future. Overall Thompson didn’t seem too worried about that or other possible advantages that the top leagues could offer to separate themselves, even if they don’t actually split apart.
The one thing that did seem like a game-changer to him, though, was scholarship limits. If those ever change, allowing the best programs to once again stockpile talent, that could be too much to overcome.
But no one’s proposing that right now, Thompson said. Could proposals change in another six months? Of course.
The most important thing to remember is that the unknown dominates these conversations right now. Even the number of teams in the College Football Playoff is likely to expand sooner than later, Thompson agreed, and there hasn’t even been a game played with that system in place.
Clarity is coming in the next few years, but for now, “there are more questions than answers,” Thompson said. And amid all that uncertainty, the Mountain West is doing fine.
At least for now, and that’s all anyone can really say for sure.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas dares to be different. From the hotel’s red reservations desks to fine art found throughout the resort, The Cosmopolitan’s signature style is helping to pave its own path on the Las Vegas Strip.
Upon entering the resort, you’re greeted by pillars of video boards playing video art by Digital Kitchen and David Rockwell Studio exclusively produced for The Cosmopolitan. Just beyond that, you’ll find all your favorite casino games on the resort’s 100,000-square-foot casino floor.
The Cosmopolitan’s rooms standout as the resort’s most unique feature. About 2,220 of The Cosmopolitan’s 2,995 rooms have 6-foot deep terraces that span the length of the room, a first at a modern Strip hotel. Other in-room amenities include soaking tubs, kitchenettes and quirky accessories like artsy coffee table books.
The dining experience at The Cosmopolitan isn’t something you’ll find at other Strip resorts, either. All of The Cosmopolitan’s 13 restaurateurs are new to the Las Vegas market. You’ll find American steakhouse fare in a modern setting at STK, top-notch sushi at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and the freshest fish flown in from the Mediterranean daily at Estiatorio Milos.
Whether the sun is up or down, Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub is the place to find the party at The Cosmopolitan. The venue is a dayclub/nightclub, complete with a pool and cabanas outside and three different rooms with three different vibes inside.
If nightclubs aren’t your thing, you can grab a drink at one of The Cosmopolitan’s five other bars, like The Chandelier, which is encased in 2 million dripping crystals.