Gonzaga, you’ve got company.
BYU’s declaring its football independence, leaving the rest of its sports – including the rising men’s basketball program – to participate in the West Coast Conference starting with the 2011-12 season.
A press conference will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
I previously spelled out some of the reasons why this move makes sense for Dave Rose’s team, though it’s worth a quick recap. (For football info, check here and here.)
- The basketball competition (Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Portland) is better. The WCC (now nine schools) isn’t a one-bid league and games against Gonzaga would be seen as marquee TV matchups.
- The league’s TV contract with ESPN is excellent.
- Travel costs should be about the same as the Mountain West and better than the WAC’s.
- And finally (perhaps most importantly to BYU officials) is that the WCC is comprised of largely faith-based schools. The Cougars don’t play on Sundays, which is usually an eye-rolling proposition for schedule makers. WCC schools won’t think so.
As for the WCC, it’ll reportedly use a round-robin 16-game schedule for the 2011-12 season and will move the dates of the conference tournament so BYU wouldn’t potentially have to play on a Sunday.
For those keeping track of markets, that gives the WCC schools in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, Portland and Spokane. Perhaps another school will be added (Denver or Seattle U?) to make it an even 10.
As for the WAC, consider it dead. Those schools will now be seeking a new conference home. And the Mountain West will probably be doing its best to bolster its ranks as well. Losing the Salt Lake TV market hurts, though it’s not a death blow.