Mountain West budget cuts include eliminating conference tournaments in most sports

Mountain West presidents discussed the athletic directors’ recommendation to expand the conference basketball season from 18 to 20 games beginning in 2022-23 but, with plenty of time to make a decision, opted not to vote on it at virtual spring meetings that ended Monday.

They did, however, approve several “cost-containment” proposals in other sports for the coming academic year, most notably eliminating conference tournaments in baseball, tennis and women’s soccer while scrapping plans to resume one this fall in women’s volleyball.

Instead, the regular season champion will receive the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The only sport using a conference tournament in 2020-21 to determine the Mountain West representative will be basketball, which will proceed as planned in March in Las Vegas.

Most of the belt tightening from anticipated pandemic shortfalls are for one year, not three or four like some other conferences have announced, and impact the so-called Olympic sports. The revenue sports of football and men’s basketball remain largely untouched.

Other Mountain West measures for 2020-21, many of which were expected:

  • An 18-percent reduction in the conference office operating budget by limiting staff travel and not filling open positions, including that of Senior Deputy Commissioner Dan Butterly, who took over as commissioner of the Big West on Monday. Butterly’s responsibilities will be spread among the current staff.
  • Shorten conference road trips in baseball and softball by making series two days instead of three, with a doubleheader and a single game.
  • Reduce conference championships in track, golf and swimming by one day.
  • Allow basketball teams to schedule two non-Division I nonconference opponents instead of one, since they command a considerably smaller “guarantee” price than Div. I teams.
  • Freeze officiating fees in all sports.
  • Host virtual instead of in-person media days in football and men’s basketball.

“The focus of this effort has been to protect opportunities for student-athletes,” Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement, “and to maintain the intercollegiate athletic offerings at each member institution which are so integral to the fabric of the respective campuses. These unprecedented times demand creative solutions.”

The Mountain West also lifted its indefinite suspension of all sports from March 26, allowing voluntary in-person workouts at campus facilities this week where local guidelines allow them. San Diego State has said it plans to bring athletes back to campus on July 7.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *