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ESPN: Sources say Boise St. to stay in Mountain West

Reporter Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported early Monday afternoon that sources have told him that the Boise St. Broncos will remain in the Mountain West Conference, reversing a decision to move to the Big East Conference in July 2013.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Boise St. Broncos have been the belle of ball in this round of conference realignment, and if reports coming from ESPN are accurate, the Boise. Idaho-based school has chosen to stay with the one that brung 'em - the Mountain West Conference.

Reporter Brett McMurphy of the Mothership reported early Monday afternoon that Boise St. will remain in the MWC, eschewing the move to Big East Conference in July 2013 and paying a $10 million exit fee (with the help of the Mountain West) despite never playing a down in the Providence, R.I.-based conference, which sought to bring in both Boise and the San Diego St. Aztecs to bolster the league's flagging football fortunes.

McMurphy termed Boise St. return to (or non-exit from) the Mountain West as "a boost to the future of the Mountain West," writing:

Boise State's decision also will impact the Mountain West's television deal. Last week, the MWC and CBS agreed to restructure their deal, which will allow the Mountain West to sell packages to two other networks. With Boise State remaining, the value of the MWC's deal could increase to at least $25 million, sources told ESPN.

With Boise State reportedly remaining in the MWC, the league will have 11 football members in 2013 - Boise State along with the Air Force Falcons, Colorado St. Rams, Fresno St. Bulldogs, Hawaii Warriors, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, San Jose State Spartans, UNLV Rebels, Utah State Aggies and Wyoming Cowboys.

This latest spasm of realignment was triggered when the so-called "Catholic 7" basketball schools from the Big East. McMurphy speculated that Boise State's withdrawal from the new Big East SDSU could trigger a return to the MWC for the Aztecs, writing:

The Aztecs have repeatedly said they are fully committed to the Big East. Yet with Boise State remaining in the Mountain West, the Aztecs' Big East contract allows them to withdraw from the Big East without paying an exit fee if there is not another Big East member located west of the Rocky Mountains.

Citing more sources, McMurphy said the move could trigger more defections from the new Big East, including the Houston Cougars and SMU Mustangs:

Besides the possibility of losing San Diego State, sources told ESPN that Houston and SMU, scheduled to join the Big East next season, are among four possible teams the Mountain West may target along with Tulsa and UTEP. The Mountain West will look to add a 12th member by 2014, sources said.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane and UTEP Miners are currently members of Conference USA - the current (and possibly former) home of Houston and SMU.

Where will this all go? Are ESPN's sources on point? Could this lure the BYU Cougars back to the MWC, as has been rumored?

Stay tuned...