In a college basketball landscape filled with a never-ending amount of potential conference realignment, the Mountain West Conference has suddenly joined the conversation once again.
On Thursday, league commissioner Craig Thompson announced that the conference has been in communication with “six university presidents or athletic directors since August”, in regards to adding a team (or teams) to the Mountain West in the near future. Thompson would go to identify Gonzaga, the 2016-2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament National Runners-Up, as one of the few schools in which he’s had “exploratory” talks with already.
As reported by ESPN, Thompson commented that “if there’s something that helps us or makes us grow stronger, why wouldn’t we look into it a little bit? We haven’t gotten real detailed or in depth in any conversations. We’re just trying to understand what are you looking for as a university, and they’re asking what are your future goals and ambitions as a conference.”
However, the non “in depth conversations” were enough to prompt a respond from a West Coast Conference spokesperson, who added that “we are aware of the exploratory conversations the Mountain West Conference has had with Gonzaga. In today’s climate, the topic of conference membership and potential realignment is on the agenda of almost every Division I conference, including the West Coast Conference.”
A private, Roman Catholic university in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga has an undergraduate population of about 7,500 students and is currently a member of the West Coast Conference (WCC). Often referred to as their slang name of “The Zags”, Gonzaga has won at least 23 games in every season since head coach Mark Few was hired back in 1999 and have never missed the NCAA Tournament under Few’s tutelage. They’ve won 17 regular-season championships and 14 tournament titles in that span as well.
This season, the Zags are 27-4 and have recently secured the #1 seed in the up-coming WCC Tournament. Currently, Gonzaga is arguably in the midst of their most successful span in school history, as they’ve compiled a 90-13 record in the past three seasons (prior to the 2017-2018 campaign), including an aforementioned trip to last year’s NCAA National Championship game.
This news was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune and information from ESPN was used in this article.