Mountain West Conference pitches affiliation to WSU

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Leadership from the Mountain West athletic conference met with the Washington State University Athletics Advisory Committee to outline the benefits of WSU joining the league during the advisory group’s second meeting on Thursday. Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez and University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes, chair of the Mountain West board of directors, traveled to the WSU Pullman campus on Aug. 24 to highlight reasons why the conference would be a good fit for WSU Athletics. 

President Stokes emphasized that the conference’s top priority is the success and well-being of its student-athletes. She also discussed the similarities between Mountain West schools and WSU. The Mountain West Conference is comprised of a mix of land-grant and flagship universities and includes six R-1 designated research institutions.

Commissioner Nevarez described the member schools of the conference as being gritty, resilient, strivers, and trailblazers. She also touted the conference’s focus on first-generation college students and the league’s leadership position in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Commission Nevarez noted that there was strong support among Mountain West Conference presidents and athletic directors for the idea of WSU joining the league, saying that the current membership “would welcome WSU with open arms.”

Members of the Mountain West Conference include schools from California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The advisory committee, comprised of WSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni, was formed to provide advice and counsel to President Kirk Schulz and Athletic Director Pat Chun on options for WSU Athletics conference affiliation, following the departure of several schools from the Pac-12 Conference.

President Schulz outlined three current possibilities for WSU Athletics during the advisory committee’s first meeting on Aug. 18. These options include affiliating with the Mountain West Conference, joining the American Athletic Conference, or working with Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and Oregon State University to rebuild the Pac-12 Conference.

Representatives from the American Athletic Conference are scheduled to present their proposal to the WSU Athletics Advisory Committee next week. 

The Mountain West and the AAC are both among the 10 select NCAA Division 1 athletic conferences that are part of the higher tier Football Bowl Subdivision, which among things means their programs are eligible for post-season bowl games.

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