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 that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.
This presidentially-led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness.
"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," said Neal Smatresk, UNLV president and chair of the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors. "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."
Universities involved in the discussions were the United States Air Force Academy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Colorado State University, East Carolina University, Fresno State, University of Hawaii, Marshall University, University of Nevada, Reno, University of New Mexico, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Texas at El Paso, Tulane University, The University of Tulsa and University of Wyoming. With the exception of Hawai'i as a football-only member, the participation would involve all sports.
The structure of the new conference will likely include:
- Membership of 18 to 24 universities
- National scope from the Atlantic Seaboard to Hawaii
- Championship football game format that includes semifinal match-ups
- Championship basketball tournament
- Regular season scheduling in divisions
- NCAA FBS affiliation
- Mechanisms to emphasize and improve academic standards and fiscal responsibility
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.
The University of Nevada, Reno today issued these statements:
“We are very excited about this opportunity to be a part of this new intercollegiate athletic association. We want to congratulate the league leadership for achieving a partnership that will provide stability for the universities involved and provide a great experience academically and competitively for our programs. We look forward to what the future holds as this new league is fully developed,” said University of Nevada, Reno President Dr. Marc Johnson.
“This new athletic association is an exciting opportunity for the University of Nevada. We are appreciative to the university presidents and chancellors as well as the conference commissioners for their leadership and hard work in making this partnership a reality. We are thrilled to be a part of this new association and look forward to the opportunities it will provide,” said University of Nevada Director of Athletics Cary Groth.