Earlier this month, Boise State confirmed via an open records request that the school’s general counsel had conducted “correspondence and discussions with the Mountain West” about remaining in the league.
One week ahead of a “deadline” to officially notify the MWC of its intent to move its football program to the Big East in 2013, it appears the university is still straddling the conference fence.
According to a report from CBSSports.com‘s Brett McMurphy that appears to have gotten lost amidst the Jerry Sandusky guilty verdict, Boise State has yet to officially withdraw from the MWC. Conference bylaws state that Boise State has until July 1 to officially withdraw from the conference or else face a stiffer financial penalty — at least $7.5 million in a post-July 1 move compared to roughly $2.5 million for notification prior to the one-year deadline.
The “at least” part is key here as the financial penalty could ultimately be eight figures for Boise State if they withdraw from the MWC after the first of next month:
That’s because Mountain West by-laws indicate if a school leaves with less than one year’s notice — which would happen if Boise State waits to officially withdraw after July 1 — the school must forfeit its final year of league revenue plus pay an additional $5 million or double its final year of league revenue, whichever amount is larger. In that scenario, Boise State would lose a minimum of $7.5 million.
However, that number could triple if the Mountain West receives an exemption as a BCS automatic qualifying conference for the 2012 season. If the league receives the AQ exemption and Boise State wins the MWC in 2012 and earns the BCS bowl berth, it would forfeit a minimum of $8 million in league revenue and have to pay $16 million to the league, losing a total of about $24 million.
Perhaps most disconcerting, at least from the Big East’s perspective, is the fact that McMurphy writes that “the Broncos… remain in discussions with the MWC about staying in that league.” This comes nearly a month after Boise State supposedly reaffirmed its intent to move its football program to the Big East.
A home for its other sports programs, however, continues to be one of, if not the, overriding factor in Boise’s conference future. If the school leaves the MWC in football, that conference will not allow the Broncos’ other sports to remain in that league. While Boise State has an agreement with the WAC to house its non-football programs, that conference is on the verge of extinction. The Broncos have also engaged in talks — with the help of San Diego State — with the Big West if the WAC is, as it appears, not a viable option.
If the WAC folds… if the Big West continues to rebuff Boise State’s efforts to join that conference in non-football sports… the Broncos may have no other choice but to remain in the MWC. And pay the Big East a $5 million exit fee, although that would be the least of that conference’s worries if it ever got to the point of losing what would’ve instantly been the league’s flagship football program.