Boise State was scheduled to be on their swan-song season in the Mountain West Conference this year, as they were to be split between the east coast and the west coast next season. Their football team, the jewel of the conference and arguably of all mid-majordom, was slated to go to the Big East, while the rest of their sports were set to join the Big West.
Instead, they’ll all stay more geographically local and remain in the Mountain West Conference indefinitely, a decision made after the Big East Conference began to fall apart in the last few weeks. Boise State has only a women’s swim team, and they remain in a conference that sponsors only women’s swimming, including teams like Air Force, UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming, and starting next year San Jose State.
The Bronco women had a breakthrough year in 2012, sending a relay to the NCAA Championships for the first time in the programs history; hit with big graduations since then, however, they are in a bit of a rebuilding mode at the moment.
The Big East has been through quite a time in the last 18 months; they’ve lost Louisville, Pitt, and Notre Dame to the ACC, and Rutgers to the Big Ten and West Virginia to the Big 12; plus, Syracuse finished off their swim program in the last few years, and are also going to the ACC anyway. The last straw has been heavy talks lately of the so-called “Catholic 7,” the seven members of the conference affiliated with the Catholic Church, leaving the Big East as well to ensure a focus on basketball. Piling on even further, next to TCU this is the second team in the last two years that has left the Big East before playing a single game in the conference.
But the Boise State swim team wasn’t likely to end up in the Big East anyway. Most of their Olympic sports were headed for the Big West, though even that conference doesn’t sponsor swimming anymore. Regardless, the Broncos will no longer have to wonder about their final destination, as they’re back where they started.
The Mountain West Conference is reportedly paying the $5 million buyout that Boise State must pay to the Big East despite the school never playing a game there. The move suddenly makes much less sense for Boise State than it once did; it would leave the team in a conference far from its home base and one that has lost its standing in football as one of the Camelot conferences that will receive an automatic bid to the college football playoff that will begin in 2015.