Boise State moves to Mountain West

Updated: June 11, 2010, 9:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Boise State has given the Mountain West Conference a 10th program.

Boise State is leaving the Western Athletic Conference, a league the Broncos have dominated for a decade in football, the MWC confirmed with a statement Friday.

"We are pleased and excited to welcome Boise State University to the Mountain West Conference," commissioner Craig Thompson said in the news release. "Since our inception just 11 short years ago, the Mountain West has experienced tremendous success, and the addition of Boise State will further enhance that strength. The MWC continues to strategize regarding potential membership scenarios and bringing Boise State into the Conference is an important part of that evolution."

Boise State becomes the second institution to join the Mountain West in the past six years, after TCU was added in 2005. The conference was founded in 1998 with eight members.

The Mountain West also includes Brigham Young, Utah, Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico and Colorado State.

"It will be a privilege to compete and partner with such a successful group of member institutions," Boise State president Robert Kustra said in a statement. "This move is in the best interests of Boise State's future, and the university is excited to be part of one of the nation's most outstanding conferences."

Thompson had said Monday the Mountain West would hold off on expansion until the dust settles in the other conferences.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson figured Boise State was bound to bolt for the Mountain West. So much so that as the WAC board of directors and athletic directors assembled in Las Vegas for the conference's annual meeting this week, they discussed contingency plans.

The conference didn't want to be caught off guard.

"I think everyone was anticipating and expecting it," Benson said in a conference call Monday night. "All the signals out there were pointing in the direction that any invitation would come today. ... This is an unbelievably volatile period. The poker playing that is going on I think is unprecedented.

"Regardless of what changes might occur, we are poised to move forward either with our existing membership or with any membership changes that may occur."

Benson said there wasn't any bitterness toward Boise State officials at the meeting, the relationship remaining quite cordial.

The WAC is keeping its options open, too, scouring for schools. Benson said there are five or six candidates from the Football Championship Series the conference is keeping an eye on.

However, Benson wouldn't elaborate on which schools might potentially be in the mix.

"Regardless of what the Mountain West might do, or Boise State might do, the WAC is going to continue to be a credible and recognizable conference," Benson said.

Broncos football coach Chris Petersen, who has compiled a 49-4 record and won three WAC titles in four years, said Monday the decision doesn't change anything about his plans for next season.

"We have a very challenging nonconference and conference schedule ahead of us and we are not planning to change our goals because of today's decision," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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