Printed July 1-7, 1999
The Mountain West Conference (MWC) has become the newest conference in Division I-A of the NCAA. The conference was created on May 26, 1998, and, now, more than a year later, operations begin.
Eight schools broke away from the Western Athletic Conference to form a new establishment that would foster the traditional rivalries set in the early 1900s. The conference is comprised of Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, Colorado State University, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Utah and University of Wyoming. BYU, New Mexico and Wyoming were charter members of the WAC IN 1962.
The first MWC sporting event will be a football game featuring Colorado State and BYU in Provo, Utah. BYU was picked by Athlon Sports Magazine to win the first football conference title. UNM was picked to equal last year’s finish at seventh.
The MWC made a national impact after it signed a seven-year television contract with ESPN, giving the network exclusive TV rights to the football and men’s basketball teams. The MWC will send its regular season football champion to the AXA/Equitable Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, to face the Conference USA champion. The conference also secured a deal with Las Vegas to send the second-place team to the Las Vegas Bowl and is the site for the men’s and women’s basketball championships for the next three years. UNM has been selected to host the men’s tennis championships April 20-22, 2000.
To help promote the new conference nationally, a new “launch” campaign will produce announcements for the MWC. A script of a 30-second television spot reads, “It’s a place where the Cowboys still roam the range. Where the Falcons soar and Cougars prowl. It’s a legendary place … where the Ram and the Wolf are equals. And the spirits of the Rebels are joined by the hearts of ancient Warriors. It’s a place where the winning and losing is not as important as where you play the game. The Mountain West Conference.”
Editor’s note: The Mountain West, like many other athletic conferences, has dealt with team realignment over the past several years. The MW is currently comprised of Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Colorado State, UNLV, Nevada, UNM, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah State and Wyoming in all sports. Hawaii is a Mountain West member in football only.