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Mountain West, Conference USA Merger Could Include 18-24 Teams

The Mountain West and Conference USA have announced their plans to dissolve and form one league. Here is the press release about the merger:

DALLAS, Texas - Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities met in Dallas Sunday to discuss future conference membership plans and agreed to work on forming a new intercollegiate athletic association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.

This presidentially led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness.
"This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast. This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics," said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. "We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture."

Universities involved in the discussions were the United States Air Force Academy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Colorado State University, East Carolina University, Fresno State, University of Hawaii, Marshall University, University of Nevada, Reno, University of New Mexico, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Texas at El Paso, Tulane University, The University of Tulsa and University of Wyoming. With the exception of Hawaii as a football only member, the participation would involve all sports.

The structure of the new conference will likely include:
· Membership of 18 to 24 universities
· National scope from the Atlantic Seaboard to Hawaii
· Championship football game format that includes semifinal match-ups
· Championship basketball tournament
· Regular season scheduling in divisions
· NCAA FBS affiliation
· Mechanisms to emphasize and improve academic standards and fiscal responsibility

The presidents and chancellors will have follow-up meetings over the next six months to fully develop the operational issues essential to the formation of the association.

The most interesting thing is that the number of teams is not at the current 16 team league for football and 15 for other sports, but could ranged from 18-24 as well as having a semifinal game to decide a football champion. The semifinal idea is intriguing and would need NCAA approval. By having a semifinal matchup it probably would have the No. 1 West seed play the No. 2 East seed and vice versas, and assuming there will be 16 teams an eight- or nine-game conference schedule to include two cross over games.

As for more teams the only options would be to poach the WAC or Sun Belt to get to 18-24, or Temple from the MAC has been mentioned. Basically no team or league is out of bounds since football goes from Hawai'i to East Carolina.

There is still a lot to discuss and figure out about this merger, so stay tuned.

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