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Mountain West and Conference USA announce plans for a new league starting in 2013-14

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Sam Morris

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall guards UTEP’s Michael Perez during a game Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011, at the Thomas & Mack Center. The two schools are among those that will play in a new conference after the Mountain West and Conference USA announced the formation of a new league.

Updated Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 | 2:38 p.m.

UNLV will compete in a new conference after next season.

Member schools of the Mountain West and Conference USA announced Monday they will dissolve their conferences and form a new league that would begin with the 2013-14 academic year.

The league will consist of at least 16 schools for football and 15 for all other sports. However, it may expand to 18 to 24 schools by the time it starts.

Conference realignment has created some bizarre situations — in two years San Diego State will be in both the Big East and the Big West — but this yet-unnamed league will be the first to span five time zones.

"We wanted to get in and make a bold statement. And do I like five time zones? You bet I do," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said. "From an institutional perspective, what we hope to see is that our teams our televised every week, multiple times a week. We want to project the brand of UNLV across the country."

The leagues are moving rapidly to create the new conference and Smatresk said an announcement about everything being put "pen-to-paper" is not too far away.

The conference will include at least UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Hawaii (football only) from the Mountain West and East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB and UTEP from Conference USA. In order to preserve as many regional rivalries as possible, the league will likely be split up into East/West divisions.

Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii were already set to leave the WAC for the Mountain West next season, replacing TCU, Boise State and San Diego State. C-USA lost Memphis to the Big East last week, adding to the departures of SMU, Houston and Central Florida.

Some of the wrinkles that have been discussed include a championship football format that includes semifinal match-ups.

"A two-tier conference championship series would be a lot of fun and would, I think, elevate the winner into national prominence," Smatresk said.

The presidents and chancellors went into Sunday's meeting, Smatresk said, with the expectation that this would be the result. And moving forward, they're confident that each institution is striving for similar goals.

"As we form this new entity, we feel that we’re associated with like-minded institutions," Smatresk said. "We believe in equity — one institution, one vote — we’re run by presidents, not athletic directors, and our top order of business is to reverse this trend where it seems to be all about the money and to make it about the student-athlete."

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. "...this exciting new venture."

    Yeah, right.

  2. New tv contract .....yayyyyyyy

  3. So when the Big East comes & grabs San Diego State the MWC fans can't stand for it, yet when there conference goes East it's ok?

  4. Geographic footprint is too wide. It's going to fail just like to old WAC megaconference because no one wants to travel.

  5. I'm sad to see the Mountain West go. I dislike the idea of a really large conferences. If only we could dissolve the BCS.

    With the new TV contract they should consider an internet streaming package. It would be a step into the future, and convenient for Rebel fans outside the school's TV market.

    On a final note from a designer, I pray the new conference can put together a better name and graphic package than Conference USA. The marketing of the Mountain West has been good from my perspective, especially considering its position.

  6. I hate what the BCS has done to college football. These conference realignments are all due the raping and pillaging the BCS conferences and their mafioso bosses have done.

    Boycott all BCS Bowls!

  7. Big fail. Can't wait to see UNLV vs East Carolina in basketball, or Fresno State vs Tulane in football. That'll get us more national exposure and a BCS bid, right?

  8. I don't know what you people expected UNLV to do?! Their options were very limited and I think this is a viable idea of some of the schools get good quickly or have some big wins. Lots of schools so lots of chances of that happening.

  9. Seems like mostly sideline quarterbacks and haters comment here.

    Good luck UNLV, and go Rebels!

  10. Exciting!!! We don't need to get into PACxx now

  11. Living in Oklahoma, which has probably spent more moeny per capita to accelerate the BCS arms race, I think this is probably a good thing for UNLV. The MWC TV deal gave up too many eyeballs in exchange for the money, making the short money a long term loser. The BCS financial monster is frightening for long-term haves like Oklahoma, and even more frightening for short-term gainers like Oklahoma State.
    Don't let anyone kid you, football has to be the most important single commitment at a succesful BCS school. Academics and all them other things are important, but the ol' pigskin is King!
    Having said that, it is becoming clear that football success is a good foundation for a well rounded university. Perennial BCS powers are, as a rule, very solid in the endowment, acreage and brick and mortar areas.
    But, like the Mercury 7 astronauts said in The Right Stuff, "No bucks-no Buck Rogers".

  12. Given our limited choices (brought about by the state of our football program and will NEVER change until we build the proposed stadium) the multi region exposure concept here is solid. As always, the key component will be the TV deal. As such, it will be interesting to see if the 5 time zone trait will make the league more appealing to a major network. "Fox Sports Nevada" sounds good to me. lol

  13. I'm a traditionalist - it doesn't make sense, unless you're looking at it from a financial perspective. I was excited about a "conventional" league with the Wolfpack & Fresno joining. Money-money-money = lame.

    Go Rebs!

  14. If there is an east and west division, then the traveling won't change too much unless inter-division games are played. There will still be the same MWC rivalry games and same can be said for CUSA. I believe Dave Rice has returned the UNLV basketball program to prominence, especially after his first recruiting class comes online next year. The football program needs some luck at this point to even get it to mediocrity. An on-campus stadium could put enthusiasm back into the football program and help land the better recruits. Better recruiting is the key for the football program. They have always settled for division 2 talent and that just doesn't fly with the tough competition today. Hopefully the new conference will be a step forward for the football program.

  15. Seems like desperation among schools that didn't get an invite to dump the MWC or CUSA for a BCS conference. Where are the rivalries in this conference, Marshall/Fresno, UTEP/ Hawaii? the BCS is managing to screw up not only football but ALL collegiate athletics. All so fancy college administrators can go back to their sycophants and say "look at this exciting new thing we did". pathetic.

  16. @liljoe - Probably not so much desperation as self preservation. It is abundantly clear that the so-called BCS conferences will continue to poach teams from the mid-majors such as the Mountain West and Conference USA, so an alliance to stop the bleeding seems like a sensible step under the circumstances. With several high profile departures, the Mountain West's hopes of becoming an automatic BCS qualifier on their own have all but evaporated. The lure of more dollars is a powerful one, and this at least seems like a reasonable idea in today's college athletic climate.

    That said, I'm not a big fan of megaconferences. Some teams who have bolted for leagues where they have no traditional rivals may eventually come to regret it. The expansion of college athletics has diluted or killed many long-term rivalries, and thrown together schools with nothing in common. The Oklahoma-Nebraska game was once a must-watch game every year. The splitting of the Big 12 into divisions ensured that they played only twice every six years, then Nebraska's departure for the Big Ten officially killed it. With Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, the same is likely to happen with what was once a huge rivalry with Texas.

  17. @orca Nothing is more desperate than when you are dissolving your entire conference in the name of "self-preservation". The travel alone will discourage recruits, in my opinion, forget the lack of regional identity or rivalries.

    @wbterry-Everyone knows i have been a Dave Rice guy since the position was available, but it is undeniable he stepped into a situation which had tremendous momentum already, thanks to Coach Kruger. That's great this "exciting" conference will help our substandard football recruiting, let's hope it doesn't kill our high-level basketball recruiting in the process

  18. UNLV needs competitive Arenas to compete with many of the schools for players. The UNLV Alumni base has not shown any inclination to support their school at any level to get the Political impact Necessary to get things done.

    The School is lacking Football and Basketball (the income generators) Stadiums. The School does not appear on the Students First Choice List. The Schools Lacks Key Programs for Community Support - A Medical School and Research Hospital and an Engineering School including Medical Engineering. The Campus is not attractive compared with most eastern schools. I wish UNLV well, however I feel they are the poor Country Cousin.

  19. UNLV is a decent university. It has room to grow obviously but they are young and ahead of their time compared to their age. The most important thing that is outlined in this conference that is being discussed is a football playoff to decide the winner. Not a championship game, a playoff. That is why it will work and why ESPN and CBS would want to be involved for big dollars. They would be involved in a new trend that the country wants before any other conference.

  20. Ben, Have you ever been to the T&M ??

  21. I love the T&M. It's gigantic, loud, on campus, and easy to navigate through. Also, it has actual seats, with backs and armrests (unless you stand like I did most of the time). I have been to a few UW games up here in Seattle, and they have bench seats at the arena, no back rests, it's tiny, expensive, quiet, uninviting, and the student section is seriously lacking. Absolutely nothing to the caliber of the T&M.

  22. Since when is the University of Washington a basketball powerhouse that we should aspire to be?I LMAO....

    Apples and Oranges comparison....the T&M is old and outdated. Even the NFR is looking at leaving because nothing has been done to seriously upgrade the arena in years. It's an early 1990's arena at best.