BREAKING NEWS: ESPN 1430 out of Fresno is reporting that the WAC and Mountain West have reached a settlement in their dispute over Fresno State and Nevada leaving. The two conferences came to this resolution after the WAC filed a lawsuit against the Mountain West. If you listen live it is part of their breaking news segment.
According to 1430 Nevada and Fresno state will pay $1M a piece as part of exit fee. The WAC originally was demanding $5M from each school. In regards to football each team will stay in the WAC for the 2012 season leaving eight schools in each conference. Karl Benson the WAC Commissioner was adamant about keeping his conference at eight teams in order to maintain full conference membership.
All other sports will be allowed to join the Mountain West right away for the 2011 season. So basketball, baseball and other sports will play in a larger 10 team league while football sticks with a smaller eight school conference. This resolution can considered a win in some aspects but also a loss in several aspects.
The financial penalty of $1M is pretty fair and just 20% of the amount originally demanded. So for cash strapped institutions like Fresno and Nevada this will be much more manageable. Not having the football teams join right away is a huge blow to the Mountain West. Nevada is having a great season and could help the AQ numbers if they finish high enough.
Benson has to feel pretty happy about keeping his league at the required minimum of eight teams for football. It won't be a comfortable situation by having two lame duck quasi members in football for a single year. The WAC is currently looking at FCS schools: Montana, UT San Antonio, and
The Mountain West will have a seven game conference schedule for football and five out of conference games. Basketball will have 10 teams and would be able to play an round robin 18 game league schedule.
Boise State is still joining the Mountain West next year while Utah and BYU are departing. So in three years the Mountain will switch from a nine team league in 2010, drop to eight teams in 2011, then jump up to 10 teams in 2012. The landscape of college football is always changing so the Mountain West could still have a different lineup in 2012.