LAS VEGAS (AP) Mountain West basketball teams could one day face fines for not scheduling strong non-conference games, Commissioner Craig Thompson said Tuesday.
The fines are part of a proposal that's been discussed within the league but hasn't been formalized.
''Scheduling is really and truly the lifeblood,'' Thompson said Tuesday during the league's media days in Las Vegas. ''It is something we are in the midst of addressing.''
Since sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2013, the Mountain West has sent the same number to the tournament over the last two seasons combined. Some felt Colorado State was snubbed last season, after the Rams won 27 games and went undefeated in nonconference play. Strength of schedule is part of what hindered the Rams.
''It's been the last couple of years we haven't been able to schedule the way we need to,'' Thompson said. ''I would think we could talk about it this fall and this winter, and maybe by the May spring meeting, we can say hypothetically say by the 2017 season, `you cannot play more than X, and you do have to play as many Y,' whatever parameters we come up with.''
Thompson said teams not meeting the scheduling parameters would be hit with a minimal fine.
''Some of the debate has been, `I'm better off paying the penalty than scheduling on the road,' which defeats the purpose of it,'' he said. ''It's a membership-driven initiative; we can help, but it's the membership that has to dictate and buy in ultimately.''
One coach who said he's not concerned with being penalized because he annually schedules tougher foes was UNLV's Dave Rice, who said he's in favor of the initiative.
''I think it's important for the conference to do things to try to help all the member institutions schedule as tough as we possibly can,'' said Rice, who is in his fifth year in charge of the Runnin' Rebels. ''I like the fact that there's a discussion and we're talking about all playing more difficult non-conference schedules.''