clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

After flirting with the Mountain West, Gonzaga will remain in the WCC

That’s big news for college basketball, and even football, in the west.

Florida State v Gonzaga Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Gonzaga basketball will be sticking with the WCC after all. Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said that while “...we appreciate the Mountain West pursuing us. However, for a number of reasons, maintaining our status in the WCC is the right thing for Gonzaga University.”

For weeks, multiple reports indicated Gonzaga wasn’t just considering making the jump, but that talks had advanced.

What changed?

For one, the WCC made multiple changes to potentially assuage Gonzaga’s concerns with the league. While other conferences are increasing their number of conference games, the WCC will actually play two fewer games moving forward, and will give the top two seeds in the WCC tournament a double bye. That means Gonzaga, (along with Saint Mary’s and BYU) have two fewer games against programs with potential sub 250 RPIs, helping their NCAA Tournament resume.

The WCC also approved measures that will allow Gonzaga to keep more of their money from advancing deep in the NCAA Tournament.

The Spokesman-Review also reported that TV was a factor, as Gonzaga’s major conference games are on ESPN. Had they bounced to the Mountain West, they would have been on CBS Sports.

That’s good news for smaller WCC schools, and also BYU

That’s great news if you’re a fan of Pepperdine or Pacific, since a stronger WCC means more NCAA money (even if you don’t get as much as before), and a chance to play a program like Gonzaga on their home court, something they wouldn’t get out of conference. It’s also great news if you’re BYU. A WCC without Gonzaga would have significantly limited opportunities for the rest of BYU’s athletic department, as they try to maintain their football independence.

It’s not great news for the Mountain West, but they’ll probably be okay

With Gonzaga in the fold, the Mountain West could have potentially even surpassed the Pac-12 as a basketball league in the west, at least if New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV regain their former glory. But even without the Zags, they should still boast a preseason Top 25 (at least) Nevada team, and have the depth and potential to be a multi-bid conference.

If you’re a fan of a WAC program hoping for a WCC invite, like a Seattle or a Grand Canyon, this news does stink though.

This doesn’t mean conference realignment is done forever though

I mean, it never is, right? And if major conferences increase their number of conference games, or are more resistant to scheduling mid-major programs out of conference, high-achieving schools in smaller leagues may decide to consolidate in stronger conferences to improve their NCAA tournament chances. Wichita State recently did this, leaving the MVC for The American (although MVC membership didn’t prevent Loyola-Chicago from making a Final Four this tournament), and programs like Davidson and George Mason moved to stronger mid-major leagues in recent memory.

According to one university administrator, the MWC even kicked around the idea of a 16-team super league. If a few more successful mid-major programs get passed over for bids, perhaps schools will get talking about changes again before the next round of TV contracts are finalized.