After months of discussions and legal wrangling, it appears “unlikely” that Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference will merge, sources told Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com.
“There is not much talk about a formal merger of the conferences into one conference entity in the near term, but that is still a future consideration,” a source said.
The two will likely still form some kind of alliance in order to share resources. This will aid in the negotiation of television contracts and non-conference scheduling.
Back in October, the two conferences began the process of merging into one conference. It would have created a “super conference” of around 22 teams. But then in February, C-USA and the MWC announced that they would both dissolve and form “…a new intercollegiate athletic association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.”
The main reason for backing off of the merger appears to be “NCAA Tournament Units.” CBS Sports explains it best:
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. If the leagues dissolved or merged that money would stay with the individual schools so the leagues would forfeit millions of dollars. Also the schools leaving potentially would not have to pay exit fees to their former league.
Without a merger, both conferences are expected to add new members to make up for recent losses. In 2013, Conference USA is losing Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF. TCU departs the Mountain West in July while Boise State and San Diego State leave next year.
CBS says that San Jose State and Utah State are top candidates to move from the WAC to the MWC, while Charlotte (begins football in 2013), Florida International, Louisiana Tech, and North Texas are all possibilities for Conference USA.