SALT LAKE CITY – Fresno State and Nevada are leaving the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West.
The schools ended a wild Wednesday by announcing they are accepting invitations to join the Mountain West, which has added three prominent members of WAC in the last two months.
That leaves the WAC with just five teams – the University of Idaho, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and San Jose State.
Boise State is already bound for the MWC next year and now the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack are following as well, leaving the WAC’s future in question and the Mountain West preparing for life after Utah and possibly BYU.
BYU is mulling going independent in football and reportedly joining the WAC in all other sports, but has not confirmed anything and may need another look before making anything official. At this rate, there might not be much of a WAC left to join.
The Mountain West is covered either way after inviting Fresno State and Nevada to join the conference Wednesday morning and both schools accepting before the day was over.
“I think people have been waiting a long time for this day. We think it is really a game changer for us,” Nevada president Milt Glick said. “This is a momentous day for the University of Nevada.”
Glick said the Wolf Pack’s move, which puts Nevada in the same conference as state rival UNLV, would either take effect next year or in 2012.
Fresno State president John D. Welty said the Bulldogs will join the MWC in 2011-12, although the Bulldogs later amended that to sometime in the next two years.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said the expansion invitations weren’t a pre-emptive strike if BYU does decide to leave the conference.
But by adding Nevada and Fresno State, the Mountain West is clearly in a stronger position in future negotiations with BYU.
“We’re simply looking at getting better and we got better tonight with Fresno State and Nevada joining our league,” Thompson said.