The Gonzaga Bulldogs will not be joining the Mountain West Conference and will stay in the West Coast Conference, Jim Meehan of the Spokesman Review reported on Monday.
The Zags have been flirting with the MWC for a couple of months now. It looks like that the scheduling changes the WCC instituted, as well as the sticking point of money, was enough of a reason to stay in the West Coast Conference for at least another year.
“The WCC made decisions over the last couple months that are going to be very positive not just for Gonzaga but everyone in our league from the standpoint of opportunities,” Roth said.
One of the big sticking points did come down to money. Gonzaga was not going to see a sizable increase in cash by changing conferences, and if the Zags moved, they would not have seen nearly $7 million dollars earned so far from previous NCAA Tournaments.
Roth declined to talk specifics, but said, “it wasn’t just one specific thing. Collectively all the pieces were part of the decision.”
Roth also noted that Gonzaga’s emergence nationally has occurred as WCC members. The Zags have won 31 NCAA Tournament games since 1999. They’ve won 11 consecutive first-round games and they’re the only program to reach at least the Sweet 16 level the last four seasons. They’ve been a No. 1 seed twice in the last six years.
Here on this blog, we’ve been rather pro-MWC in previous weeks. By moving to the MWC, the Zags would have seen an increase in conference quality and the potential for higher seeds because of it.
The MWC also has a less nationally broadcasted profile, something that the Zags would have given up, even with the MWC renegotiating their TV rights in a couple of years. Gonzaga basically has its own ESPN deal during conference play, and can command a bit more control in that realm.
Potentially, the change in the WCC scheduling, paring the conference play down from 18 to 16 games, will help the Zags RPI woes in the future. Roth noted that Gonzaga has been a No. 1 seed twice in the WCC, and for him, that works right now.
In typical fashion, Roth didn’t even rule anything out for the future. With as vocal as Gonzaga has been in critique of the WCC, this might be the beginning of a long and lasting renewed friendship, or Gonzaga might still be out of the conference with the next best basketball oriented offer.