Boise States athletic programs arent going anywhere, as it turns out. Not to the far-flung and ever-changing Big East for football. Not to the California-based Big West for nearly every other sport.
Instead, the university announced Monday that it will remain an all-sports member of the Mountain West after negotiating revenue terms that should favor the Broncos and their highly ranked and coveted football program.
The team even gets to start wearing all-blue uniforms at Bronco Stadium again, a sore spot for BSU under its original agreement with the league.
Without question, conference affiliation has been an odyssey for Boise State, with all the unexpected turns and changes that terms suggests, Boise State President Bob Kustra said.
Under terms of the new agreement with the Mountain West, the television rights to BSUs home football games will be sold separately from the leagues current package, which is with CBS Sports.
CBS will still have first pick of Mountain West games, but Boise States games on the blue turf will not be included.
The league will ensure Boise State home football games are not part of any current or future Mountain West Conference-wide television rights contract, Boise State said in a release. The league will guarantee the rights to Boise State home football games ... are sold as a separate package.
The Mountain West said those rights will be packaged with other league inventory and shopped to other networks, with the revenue going to the conference.
Though Boise State will not collect money directly from the sale of its home football games, the athletic department stands to benefit the most from the leagues new national TV bonus structure. Teams that play in games on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN or ESPN2 will earn $300,000 per game. If the game is on a Saturday, the teams will earn an additional $200,000.
The more you play on national TV, the more revenue you will be receiving, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said.
If ESPN, for example, were to purchase the rights to Boise States home games and televise five of them, including two on Saturdays, the Broncos would earn $1.9 million in bonuses. Thats before the school collects revenue from the conference for other television rights, bowl games and NCAA basketball units.
Thompson said he would not speculate on what the Mountain Wests complete media rights package might be worth. The league received a mere $800,000 this year from CBS Sports, which holds the primary rights through 2016 and has a four-year option after that.
An enhanced television rights package was one of the biggest reasons Boise State agreed to join the Big East. But that disintegrating league still does not have an agreement, and with the announced departures of Louisville and Rutgers, along with seven basketball-playing Catholic schools, its television value has been shrinking.
The benefits of geographic footprint, revenue and national exposure have to be balanced against the changing circumstances of conference realignment, said Kustra, who met with Thompson at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22. The talks progressed from there.
Boise State is on the hook for a $5 million exit fee to the Big East, but there are provisions to lower that amount. Thompson said the Mountain West would help BSU pay exit fees to both the Big East and Big West.
The Broncos will not have to forfeit any revenue distribution from the Mountain West this year, or pay an entrance fee.
The mens basketball team might be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the decision to remain in the conference, considered one of the top six in the country. Four teams made the NCAA Tournament last season, a number the league could easily match or exceed this season.
We have to continue to grow this program in every aspect to compete in this league, coach Leon Rice said.
By changing its mind about a Mountain West departure, Boise State will not play in a BCS automatic-qualifying conference in 2013 and obviously will not have marquee home games against Louisville and Rutgers. Instead, the Broncos will have to try to qualify for the BCS under current non-AQ rules by being the highest-ranked champion from a non-AQ league and ranked in the top 12 (or the top 16 if ahead of a BCS AQ champ).
With Boise State, the Mountain West has 11 football-playing members for 2013. Utah State and San Jose State are joining the league next year, originally as replacements for Boise State and San Diego State.
The league has been in contact with San Diego State, which was going to make the jump with Boise State, Thompson said. He said he had conversations with three to five schools in the 24 hours before Boise States announcement. Thompson said he has had informal conversations with former member BYU as well.
No decision on a number of teams has been made, he said. The league does face time pressure to produce a 2013 football schedule.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph