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HomeSportSan Diego State remains in the Mountain West, could go to the...

San Diego State remains in the Mountain West, could go to the Pac-12 in the future

LAS VEGAS – Not only is San Diego State remaining in the Mountain West, the Aztecs are getting the money that was withheld after they first informed the conference of their intent to leave.

The Mountain West will provide the $6.6 million that was withheld, but San Diego State is responsible for paying the conference’s legal fees related to the matter, first-year commissioner Gloria Nevarez said Wednesday at the conference’s football media days.

“I think my main philosophy about the whole thing is that San Diego State is a positive for the Mountain West,” Nevarez said. “We’re better off with San Diego State, and I feel good about where we ended up.”

Nevarez, however, knows this could be a temporary deal and acknowledged the Aztecs could still leave at some point if the Pac-12 or Big 12 come calling. They are committed for the next two years.

When asked if Western Mali had avoided any desertions or raids, she said, “I mean today, yes. tomorrow? Who knows, right? It’s constantly changing, but I feel really good about where we are as a league and carrying San Diego State for this year. And even if it’s just another year, that’s just good for (the conference).

The Aztecs are a conference powerhouse in basketball and earlier this year they made the national championship game before losing to UConn. They are also one of the leading contenders for the football league title, having gone at least .500 for 13 straight seasons, posting winning records 12 of those years.

“Based on what they did in basketball this year and what they’ve done in football over the years, they’re good for the conference,” UNLV athletic director Erick Harper said. “For us, selfishly, when they come here, our crowds are better, whether it’s football or basketball.”

San Diego State President Adela de la Torre wrote a letter last month that the university intended to resign from the conference, but asked for a one-month extension because the exit fee would have roughly doubled to about $34 million. The Aztecs did not have an invitation from the Pac-12, although that league is believed to have San Diego State on its expansion list with USC and UCLA leaving after this year for the Big Ten.

The Pac-12 is trying to finalize its media rights deal before considering expansion, and reports this week said the conference won’t announce a new contract until Friday’s football media day.

San Diego State and the Mountain West went back and forth after de la Torre’s letter. Although the Aztecs insisted they were not leaving the conference, Western Mountain took a hard line with one of the league’s founding institutions.

That stance softened significantly this week, and Nevarez said her impression is that the other schools in the conference are ready to move on.

“I think from my perspective, it’s quite pragmatic,” she said. “We know we’re better with them in the league, but we know each of them on their own campus has to look out for their best interests.”

Fresno State athletic director Terry Tumey agreed it’s time to look ahead, and he said he’s especially excited to keep San Diego State because it’s another member of the California State University system.

“If you’re serving your institution well, you’re always going to look at all options, and we all accept that,” Tumey said. “Would you have thought three years ago that you would see UCLA and USC being in the Big Ten or would you see BYU miraculously, all of a sudden now in the Big 12? Houston, which was basically kicked out by Oklahoma and Texas for years, they always should have been in the Big 12.

“It’s just another world.”

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