Boise States conference shuffle might be nearing an end the latest round, at least.
The Broncos withdrew from the Mountain West late Saturday night, clearing the way for their football program to move to the Big East in 2013.
And the Big West will vote on the Broncos membership for the majority of its other sports by the beginning of the school year, Commissioner Dennis Farrell confirmed to the Statesman.
Boise State said it is having ongoing, substantive discussions with the California-based Big West, which said last week that it would entertain a membership application from the Broncos.
There is no doubt that conference affiliation is a difficult and complex issue, but I am very pleased where we stand today and excited for the future prospects of all of our Bronco sports, Boise State President Bob Kustra said in a statement, his first public comment on the Broncos conference situation in several months.
The Broncos will compete in the Mountain West in 2012-13 in all sports, save gymnastics (WAC) and wrestling (Pac-12). Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football-only) joined the Mountain West on Sunday, and TCU departed for the Big 12.
This collective group of institutions in the Mountain West represents a logical geographic base in the Western United States, and brings with it a legacy of spirited competition that in some cases goes back 100 years, Commissioner Craig Thompson said in acknowledging the new additions plus next years arrivals of Utah State and San Jose State.
His statement did not mention Boise State or San Diego State, which is also joining the Big East in football in 2013.
Hawaii joined the Big West on Sunday in all other sports. San Diego State will join them in 2013.
Will the Broncos?
Boise State needs at least eight yes votes from the leagues 10 members. In addition to Hawaii and San Diego State, the league will consist of Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara for the 2013-14 season.
The league turned down overtures from Boise State last year, when the Broncos first made the move to the Big East.
Boise State agreed to put its non-football programs in the WAC in December, but a host of defections, including Utah State and San Jose State, has left the league in shambles and the Broncos looking around for a more stable home.
Hawaii will pay travel subsidies to join the Big West, reportedly $500,000 per year. Boise State has offered to pay travel subsidies, though the Broncos have not given a specific amount, according to UC Santa Barbara Athletic Director Mark Massari.
Massari told the Santa Barbara News-Press last week that Boise State may have to pay more than just travel subsidies to earn enough votes. He said, however, the odds are better than 50-50 that Boise State ends up in the Big West.
The league was Boise States conference home from 1996 to 2001.
By publicly acknowledging their discussions with the league and setting a target for a final vote, the Broncos have set expectations that a return to the league is likely.
And an end to their conference shuffle is in sight.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @MurphsTurph