Gonzaga staying in the West Coast Conference

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Gonzaga is staying put.

The Bulldogs’ much-discussed and -speculated potential move to the Mountain West Conference will not come to fruition, with the ‘Zags staying in the West Coast Conference, athletic director Mike Roth told the Spokesman-Review.

“Our decision is to remain in the WCC, where we’ve had a great relationship for 39 years going on 40,” Roth said. “We appreciate the Mountain West pursuing us. However, for a number of reasons, maintaining our status in the WCC is the right thing for Gonzaga University.”

Gonzaga has been in the WCC since the 1979 season, but the flirtation between it and the Mountain West leaked publicly near the end of the regular season. The Bulldogs have made 20-straight NCAA tournaments, but the conference’s makeup has been a drag on their seeding for years. The WCC hasn’t put three teams in the tournament since 2012, and the Zags have been the conference’s lone representative twice during that span.

The conference is implementing changes, however, that could bolster Gonzaga, which, under the new rules, will have a better path to the WCC tournament title, more money and increased scheduling flexibility.

“The WCC made decisions over the last couple months that are going to be very positive not just for Gonzaga but everyone in our league from the standpoint of opportunities,” Roth said. “Look at what we have achieved as members of the WCC. We made it to the national championship game. We have goals that are still out there and we’ll continue to chase those as members of the WCC.”

The decision to stay is a massive one for the WCC, which would have lost its marquee program and its national standing that Gonzaga has helped build during this two-decades of dominance.

While Gonzaga isn’t moving now, Roth certainly didn’t slam the door on a conference affiliation change in the future.

“We’ve completed all the discussions with the Mountain West at this point and time,” Roth said. “Could it resurface as part of the evaluation of the future? That’s a crystal ball I can’t look into.”