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UNLV Plans to Depart Mountain West, Join Newly Formed League | News

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UNLV Plans to Depart Mountain West, Join Newly Formed League

LAS VEGAS -- UNLV plans to join a new athletics conference comprised of former Mountain West and Conference USA members beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, the university announced Monday.

Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities met in Dallas Sunday to discuss future conference membership plans and agreed to work on forming a new intercollegiate athletic association.

Coming with UNLV from the former Mountain West will be:


  • Air Force
  • Colorado State
  • Fresno State (new in 2012-13)
  • Hawaii (new in 2012-13, football-only)
  • Nevada (new in 2012-13)
  • New Mexico
  • Wyoming


Coming from Conference USA will be:


  • Alabama-Birmingham
  • East Carolina
  • Marshall
  • Rice
  • Southern Mississippi
  • Texas-El Paso
  • Tulane
  • Tulsa


With the exception of Hawaii as a football-only member, the participation would involve all sports. 

"This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast. This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said in a prepared statement. "We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture."

The university made no mention of the disposition of its current TV contract with The Mtn. regional network, long seen as an albatross to Mountain West schools who receive good compensation but severely limited exposure from a network not readily available nationwide. Membership in a new conference has been thought to be a potential escape clause from the TV deal for UNLV and its fellow Mountain West schools. 

The structure of the new conference will likely include:


  • Membership of 18 to 24 universities
  • Championship football game format that includes semifinal match-ups
  • Championship basketball tournament
  • Regular season scheduling in divisions
  • NCAA FBS affiliation


The presidents and chancellors will have follow-up meetings over the next six months to fully develop the operational issues essential to the formation of the association.