Conference USA, Mountain West now talking alliance instead of merger

By Kevin Kelley -

MWC-C-USAConference USA and Mountain West are now talking about forming an alliance rather than merging, sources have told MercuryNews.com and CBSSports.com.

The two conferences announced in October that they planned to merge into one conference. Then last month they announced plans to dissolve both conferences and create a new one for legal reasons. Dissolving would allow them to nullify current television contracts and sign newer, more lucrative ones.

But recently C-USA and the MWC learned that dissolving the two conferences would result in the loss of “NCAA Tournament units.”

Teams earn about $250,000 for their conference for each round they advance in the NCAA tournament and that money is distributed to the conferences after a rolling six-year period. Dissolving the leagues would forfeit C-USA and the Mountain West millions of dollars.

According to Jon Wilner, the NCAA also told C-USA and the MWC that “it would award the merged league only one AQ berth to postseason events.” It goes without saying that the merged conference was expecting more than one automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

If the two conferences decide not to merge, their other option is to form an alliance which will aid television contracts and non-conference scheduling.

Conference USA currently has 12 football members, but four are set to join the Big East in 2013 (Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF). The Mountain West currently sits at ten members, but Boise State and San Diego State also depart for the Big East next year.

That leaves the C-USA/MWC league with 16 members if they merge and two eight-team conferences if they simply choose to form an alliance.

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Categories: C-USA, Conference Expansion, Future NCAA Schedules, Mtn. West, NCAA

11 Comments to Conference USA, Mountain West now talking alliance instead of merger

  1. Beau said....

    What exactly would an alliance consist of?

    March 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm
  2. Matt said....

    Yeah that was poorly written and didnt really get into what the difference of an alliance and merger was.

    March 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm
    • Paul B said....

      Merger means we have a brand new conference of 16 teams total (unless they add some more) whereas an alliance is what the Pac-12 and Big10 have got, a scheduling aggreement.

      And alliance may also mean we the mutaully agree to not poach each other.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm
    • Kevin K. said....

      Merger equals 16+ team conference. Alliance mean sharing television revenue and scheduling agreements. Basically what I wrote. Sorry you didn’t like it.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm
  3. dubw said....

    I think it is legal mumbo jumbo, if they merge, the biggy folks won’t allow them to fully participate, if they stay separate the biggy’s will let them in one conference at a time. The Bigs have it arranged so that no matter what they do merge or align, they lose. It’s all a ruse to protect those schools who are protecting their current revenue stream.

    March 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm
  4. bigddan11 said....

    Sorry, but that has always been the rule for every conference. The Big 12 only gets 1 automatic birth to the NCAA Tourney. The ACC only gets 1 automatic birth. The same thing applies to the SEC. It’s also ridiculous for them to claim they didn’t know this rule existed because every one of the MWC athletic directors went through this when they formed the MWC. They all knew they would lose the automatic birth for 6 years. It was 2004 before the MWC qualified for an auto birth. They should be glad it’s not the same policy as what the Great West has (a 10-year wait, and that’s only if they have enough teams in their conference by 2020). Now the MWC had teams that were good enough to qualify at large to the NCAA Tourney, but they all know what happens if they form a new conference. When they originally discussed the idea, it was to form an alliance for non-conference scheduling as well as a conference championship between the two. It was after the Big East raided them that they started discussing a merge. It’s amazing how many times they claim ignorance and change their tone when both CUSA and the MWC have been through this before.

    March 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm
  5. wvwoodman said....

    All of that info was nothing new to me. I knew it when they started talking merger. However they can merge into one conference for football only – and that is their objective I think. They can be a 16 team football conference with divisions and a championship game. The Big East operated for at least 10 years as two conferences under the same name – one for Football and the real BE for all other sports.

    March 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm
  6. Kristoffer said....

    Why would any one conference be audacious enough to think that they would be allowed two automatic berths to NCAA championships when all other conferences only receive one automatic berth?

    March 26, 2012 at 10:48 pm
    • Kro said....

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. The new league would hypothetically get a lot of at-large bids because of the bigger talent pool.

      March 27, 2012 at 9:52 am
  7. pa said....

    Very interesting that bball in this case turn the table in this alliance which is being done to make football money. So the money lost by one less automatic nccabb invite overrides the money that could be made in football tv contract by having a mini ‘super conference’

    March 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm