Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez expects the next steps in conference realignment to settle in the coming weeks, signaling an anticipation that the conference could make moves to expand sooner rather than later.
Nevarez took her first campus visit to Fresno State on Monday as commissioner, taking time to discuss the expansion rumors surrounding the conference.
The backstory: After nearly four years leading the West Coast Conference – and eight years before that as an executive with the Pac-12 – Nevarez took over as Mountain West Commissioner at the start of the year.
- She is in the process of visiting each of the 12 universities for the first time in her role, meeting with university administration and getting a feel for what the Mountain West does well and what it needs to improve on.
Conference expansion: Nevarez’s visit to Fresno State is timely given the recent demise of the Pac-12, leaving Oregon State, Washington State, Cal and Stanford in need of a new home.
- While Nevarez declined to specifically discuss the remaining Pac-12 schools on Monday – not wanting to comment about active conversations that she may or may not have had – she expects the situation to be settled soon.
- “I think it probably has to because we have to plan for 2024, the schools involved, the conferences they’re going to, nonconference schedule,” Nevarez said. “While there certainly isn’t a deadline, there is a sense of urgency.”
- Before the Pac-12 was raided by the Big 10 and the Big 12, Nevarez was happy with having 12 member universities.
- “But now that we have these mega conference, I’m stretching my comfort zone to 14, 16,” Nevarez said. “Doesn’t mean we have to get there – definitely think we need to consider it.”
A unified front: Last month San Diego State appeared to be headed to the Pac-12, only to have to return to Nevarez and the conference when an offer from the Pac-12 never actually materialized.
- With the demise of the Pac-12, the Mountain West remained intact and is now the premier conference that is solely located on the west coast.
- Nevarez said the Mountain West Board met last week and felt that the conference is in a very stable position.
- “We had a board meeting and really just went over everything that was happening in the environment, trying to sort fact from fiction, and our presidents were united in the fact that we’re aligned,” Nevarez said.
The media deal: Conference realignment centers on each conference’s media deal, as illustrated by the Pac-12’s inability to secure a lucrative media deal to keep its members from bolting for greener pastures.
- The Mountain West’s deal, which pays each university around $4 million annually, is up in three years, meaning the conference will go to market in two.
- “Right now the media market’s a little bit flat, but we’re optimistic that when we go to market we’ll have a lot of opportunity,” Nevarez said.
- The conference’s current deal with CBS and Fox Sports includes a renegotiation clause in the case of expansion or contraction, meaning the potential additions of Oregon State and Washington State could provide a more lucrative deal for each university.