February 19, 2004
brings added visibility
should help make the Mountain West Conference more distinct
on the national level, while MWC will increase TCUs
The Frogs leap from Conference USA to the Mountain
West Conference should bring more national visibility
to the conference, said Chris Hill, Utahs athletics
Hill said with the addition of TCU, and the departure
of many of C-USAs other top teams, the MWC separates
itself from the current pack of non-Bowl Championship
Series conferences. He said the MWC has possibly put themselves
in position to move into the top echelon of Division I-A
college football at the ideal time, just as the current
BCS contract expires after the 2005 regular season.
Our goal is to be part of the BCS, Hill said.
Hill said he anticipates the MWC will have the best television
contract of all the current non-BCS conferences when they
re-negotiate their current deal.
Currently, the league is in the fifth year of a seven-year
deal that guarantees a minimum of two football games on
ABC, four on ESPN, five on ESPN2 and an average of eight
syndicated by ESPN Regional Television each season.
The contract also promises an average of 21 mens
basketball games per season and all MWC tournament games
on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Regional Television. A minimum
of seven conference and three non-conference games are
on ESPN each season, including at least three Big Monday
ESPN or ESPN2 televise the womens basketball championship
game and one regular-season game.
Head coach Neil Dougherty said television exposure plays
a big role in recruiting.
I am anxious to see what the new TV package looks
like, Dougherty said. The more games we play out
West, the less likely it is that we will be seen in the
Midwest and East Coast.
Womens basketball coach Jeff Mittie said TCU expects
to receive more money as a member of the MWC than in C-USA.
Because it is a nine-team league, there will be
larger revenue shares per school, Mittie said.
The large number of national television appearances the
MWC has should make up for the conferences smaller
local markets. In comparison, C-USA has schools in 13
of the nations top 50 media markets, including TCU.
Dallas-Fort Worth, the seventh-largest market in the nation,
will be the MWCs largest television market when
the Frogs join the league, giving the MWC representation
in five of the nations top 50 markets.
However, many of the current BCS conference schools come
from small markets, proving it is not the overriding factor
to obtaining BCS status.
Head football coach Gary Patterson said the smaller markets
of the MWC will have no effect on recruiting because national
television exposure is what is important, and both of
the conferences already have ties to ESPN.
The average football attendance for both conferences was
about equal last season. The MWC averaged 32,809 fans
a game and C-USA averaged 32,346, including TCU which
averaged 36,155. However, those figures are expected to
change as C-USA will be losing most of its best supported
football programs: Louisville, Cincinnati and TCU, due
Mittie said he is excited the MWC includes many schools
that are among the foremost athletic institutions in their
states. He said New Mexicos womens basketball
team averages 12,000 fans a game. According to the MWC
Web site, that figure ranks fourth in the country. The
conference ranked fourth in the nation in womens
basketball attendance in 2003.
Attendance for mens basketball was also better in
the MWC, which ranked fifth in the nation last season
with 9,694 fans per game compared to 8,362 per game in