About: From its inception in 1999, the Mountain West has been committed to excellence in intercollegiate athletics, while promoting the academic missions of its member institutions. Progressive in its approach, the MW continues to cultivate opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the highest level, while fostering academic achievement and sportsmanship. Now in its 19th year, the MW has been assertive in its involvement with the NCAA governance structure and has taken a leadership role in the overall administration of intercollegiate athletics.
The Mountain West is noted for its geographic diversity. Some of the most beautiful terrain and landscapes in the nation can be found within Mountain West boundaries, including the majestic Rocky Mountain range, which borders five MW institutions (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico and Utah State). The high plains of Wyoming (elevation 7,220 feet – the highest Division I campus in the nation) contrast with the desert cities of Las Vegas and Reno, home to UNLV and Nevada, respectively, while Fresno State, San Diego State and San José State add a West coast influence with their locations in Central, Southern and Northern California. The inclusion of the Hawai‘i football program extends the Mountain West footprint to the beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean, while the addition of the women’s soccer program at Colorado College gives the MW an additional presence in the Rocky Mountains.
The Mountain West was conceived on May 26, 1998, when the presidents of eight institutions — Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming — decided to form a new NCAA Division I-A intercollegiate athletic conference.
When the Mountain West officially began operations on July 1, 1999, the new league had in place a seven-year contract with ESPN, giving the broadcast entity exclusive national television rights to MW football and men’s basketball, and three-year agreements to send the league’s football champion to the Liberty Bowl and a second team to the Las Vegas Bowl. Commissioner Thompson also arranged a third bowl tie-in each of the first three seasons (1999 Motor City, 2000 Silicon Valley, 2001 New Orleans) before securing a four-year deal with the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco in 2002.
Mountain West Conference