Boise State will not be joining the Big East's reconfigured football conference, with the school announcing on Monday that it will remain a member of the Mountain West for all sports.
The Broncos were set to join the Big East as a football-only member for the 2013 season in a major restructuring for the beleaguered league. However, the recent planned defections of Rutgers (to the Big 12) and Louisville (to the ACC) further weakened the conference's football base and caused Boise State to reconsider its options.
Boise State was to join the Big West for all other sports beginning next season, but was able to work out a deal to stay in the Mountain West and enable the conference to keep one of its highest-profile football programs.
"We are very pleased today to announce Boise State University's continuing membership in the Mountain West Conference," MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said on Monday. "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."
The Big East has now lost 14 existing or future members over the past two years, with conference stalwarts Pittsburgh and Syracuse also departing for the ACC and West Virginia leaving for the Big 12 this past season. TCU, which had initially agreed to join as a football-only entry back in 2010, also switched gears after receiving an invitation to the Big 12.
"Without question, conference affiliation has been an odyssey for Boise State, with all the unexpected turns and changes that term suggests," Boise State president Dr. Robert Kustra said. "The benefits of geographic footprint, revenue, and national exposure have to be balanced against the changing circumstances of conference realignment. I am confident that our Mountain West membership is the very best decision for Boise State University, our student- athletes and our incredible fan base."
More defections could still be forthcoming, as it remains to be seen if San Diego State will also go through with its plans to enter the Big East for football in 2013. As part of their agreement with the conference, the Aztecs would no longer be liable for an exit fee as the only school located west of the Rocky Mountains.
San Diego State is also slated to move to the Big West for all other sports beginning in 2013-14, though it's unclear as to whether the MWC would accept the Aztecs back as it did Boise State.
Boise State will still have to pay the Big East a $5 million exit fee unless a settlement can be reached.
The Big East presently has 11 schools scheduled for football next season, with San Diego State set to join Conference USA defectors Houston, Memphis, SMU and Central Florida and existing members Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida and Temple.