San Diego St. announced it was leaving the Mountain West. Now, it’s backpedaling.

San Diego State got ahead of itself in announcing its departure from the Mountain West Conference. Now, its status is up-in-the-air.

It appears that San Diego State jumped the gun of pursuing a formal exit from the Mountain West Conference without having an offer from a Power 5 conference in hand. 

The university has since tried to walk back its exit, arguing that its first letter to the Mountain West was not a formal notice of resignation.


Driving the news: Conference realignment for schools like San Diego State and Fresno State has been a hot topic over the past several months as universities in the upper echelon of the nation’s mid-major athletics programs jockey for lucrative spots in Power 5 conferences. 

  • The Sun previously reported that Fresno State has been in talks with the Big 12, but the university has not secured an invite yet. San Diego State or any other mid-majors have also not been invited to the Big 12, Pac-12 or any other major conferences. 
  • The latest round of conference realignment was spurned by Oklahoma and Texas being invited to the SEC, spurning the Big 12 to grab UCF, Houston, BYU and Cincinnati. The latter four schools are all set to join the Big 12 officially on Saturday. Last year USC and UCLA accepted invites to the Big 10 and will make the move at the same time Oklahoma and Texas do next year. 
  • Any moves for Fresno State, San Diego State and the like could hinge on the Pac-12 media deal, which has been negotiated for months and could be the catalyst for schools like Oregon and Washington jumping ship if the new television money is not lucrative enough. 

The big picture: On June 13, San Diego State President Adela de la Torre sent a letter to the Mountain West saying, “this letter is to formally notice that San Diego State University (SDSU) intends to resign from the Mountain West Conference (MWC) effective June 30, 2024 or at an agreed upon later date.” 

  • De la Torre also asked for a one month extension to the June 30, 2023 deadline to officially notify the conference of its exit, as well as requesting a discussion on the exit fee, which is reportedly around $17 million. 
  • One day later Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez sent a letter to de la Torre acknowledging the conference’s receipt of San Diego State’s formal notice. “SDSU has been an important member to the Mountain West, and it is with a heavy heart that we receive this news,” Nevarez wrote. “We wish you only the best in your new conference and will work with you to ensure a smooth transition.” 
  • However, on June 15 de la Torre sent another letter to Nevarez, claiming that the university never submitted an official notice of resignation. 
  • Nevarez responded on June 16 that the Mountain West considers San Diego State to be leaving the conference on June 30, 2024 and is not approving an extension at this time. 

What we’re watching: San Diego State will be in a state of limbo over the next year until an offer from the Pac-12 or Big 12 comes. If a Power 5 offer never comes, San Diego State will have to negotiate a deal to stay in the Mountain West, jump to another mid-major conference or go independent.

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