Mountain West Conference says it's wooing Gonzaga; BYU named in report

Wednesday , February 28, 2018 - 6:46 PM

In what might seem like a report from dream world not long ago, Gonzaga has held discussions with the Mountain West Conference about changing conferences, a report as told by MWC commissioner Craig Thompson to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

And those discussions may hinge on the availability of BYU, according to the report.

The Union-Tribune published that report Wednesday after a conversation with Thompson in which he said the conference has discussed expansion with six schools.

“I guess the adjective I’d use is exploratory,” Thompson said. “Truthfully, what we’re trying to do here is better ourselves and we’re trying to understand what are your goals and ambitions, and what are the Mountain West’s goals and ambitions.”

BYU was not one of those six schools, Thompson said, but the Union-Tribune reports BYU would consider a return to its former home in basketball if Gonzaga — last year’s national runner-up — joins.

The report also says Gonzaga coach Mark Few is particularly interested in such a move if BYU is involved.

“We’ll put ourselves in position to do whatever we have to do,” Few told the media last March during the NCAA Tournament. “If there’s a movement that’s going to happen, we’re going to look out for what’s best for Gonzaga.”

Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have anchored the West Coast Conference, with BYU making a strong third wheel. The rest of the conference has failed to rise up to their level since the Cougars joined in 2011. No team outside those three has come close to an NCAA Tournament bid.

While the Mountain West has declined in NCAA Tournament bids recently, with traditional powers San Diego State and New Mexico also in decline, programs like Nevada and Boise State have risen to take their place.

Such parity bears itself out in conference ratings systems like the RPI, where the MWC is ninth and the WCC is 13th. In Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, the MWC is eighth and the WCC 10th.

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