Six months after Boise State announced it would join the Big East in 2013, the Broncos not only still haven't officially withdrawn from the Mountain West, but remain in discussions with the MWC about staying in that league, industry sources told CBSSports.com.
Boise State is scheduled to play its final season in the Mountain West in 2012-13 and join the Big East as a football-only member in 2013. However, the Broncos haven't officially withdrawn from the Mountain West.
If they do so before July 1, their exit fee only consists of forfeiting their final year's worth of league revenue (about $2.5 million). However, if the Broncos wait to withdraw after July 1, it would cost even more -- potentially as much as $24 million.
That's because Mountain West by-laws indicate if a school leaves with less than one year's notice -- which would happen if Boise State waits to officially withdraw after July 1 -- the school must forfeit its final year of league revenue plus pay an additional $5 million or double its final year of league revenue, whichever amount is larger. In that scenario, Boise State would lose a minimum of $7.5 million.
However, that number could triple if the Mountain West receives an exemption as a BCS automatic qualifying conference for the 2012 season. If the league receives the AQ exemption and Boise State wins the MWC in 2012 and earns the BCS bowl berth, it would forfeit a minimum of $8 million in league revenue and have to pay $16 million to the league, losing a total of about $24 million.
If the league gets the exemption and a team other than Boise State wins the MWC in 2012, the Broncos would forfeit a minimum of $3.5 million in league revenue and have to pay $7 million to the league, losing a total of about $10.5 million.
Also, if Boise State makes a BCS bowl in 2012 and the MWC did not receive an exemption, a departure after July 1 would cost the Broncos a minimum of $24 million.
Boise State spokesman Max Corbet said Friday the school "is aware of the upcoming deadline and continuing to work hard on getting everything completed."
One reason Boise State hasn't formally withdrawn from the Mountain West is the Broncos don't know where they will place their Olympic, or non-football, sports. They have an agreement with the Western Athletic Conference, but the WAC has been gutted by defections and will be down to only five members in 2013 -- Idaho, New Mexico State, Denver, Seattle and Boise State.
WAC interim commissioner Jeff Hurd told CBSSports.com last week that Boise State remains a member of the WAC, but the league needs to add at least two new members to remain a Division I conference. Hurd wouldn't comment on specific candidates, but sources said the most likely schools were Utah Valley State, Cal State Bakersfield and possibly Texas-Pan American.
"Boise has been up front," Hurd said. "They're looking at every option it can. Realistically we have to show Boise State we can be viable in 2013-14." Boise State also has looked into putting its Olympic sports in the Big West, but that league -- at least for now -- is not receptive to adding the Broncos.
If Boise State decides not to join the Big East, the Broncos would owe the Big East $5 million, an amount the Mountain West, most likely, would assist in paying.
On Tuesday in Washington D.C. the Presidential Oversight Committee meets and could rule on the MW's exemption. The league applied for a BCS exemption in December. The exemption would allow the conference champion to receive an automatic bid to one of the BCS bowls in 2012.
The Mountain West met two of the three criteria of the BCS for an automatic exemption and were just outside at No. 7 in the third (needing to be ranked among the top six conferences in overall strength of the league based on the computer polls). By comparison, in 2004 the Big East received an exemption by the Presidential Oversight Committee to remain a BCS AQ conference.
The exemption must be voted on by the 12-member oversight committee, with nine votes needed for approval. If the oversight committee doesn't vote on the exemption Tuesday, BCS executive director Bill Hancock had previously told CBSSports.com that the committee would make a decision by August or September.
The Mountain West would not comment specifically about Boise State, but the league provided a statement from Craig Thompson on the possible exemption.
"The Mountain West meets the waiver provision from 2008-11 and with past precedent of granting waivers, the league should receive automatic qualification," Thompson said. "This is recognizing demonstrated performance."
Last month, CBSSports.com reported Boise State and MWC officials had discussions about Boise State remaining in the league. On May 21, Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle denied the discussions took place, but Thompson and Colorado State athletic director Jack Graham later both confirmed a May 9 meeting was held with Boise State's officials on Boise State's campus.
Nearly six weeks since that meeting, Boise State and the MWC have continued discussions while the Broncos remain undecided on if they should stay in the MW or go to the Big East.
At the Big East meetings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on May 21, Coyle discussed Boise State's future plans.
"We continue to talk with everybody and try to find the best long-term solution for our institution," Coyle said.
The clock is winding down. Boise State must make a decision by June 30 to stay in the Mountain West or withdraw and join the Big East. Either decision is somewhat of a gamble, with ultimately millions of dollars riding on it.