Is San Diego State’s time in the Mountain West coming to a close?
According to multiple media reports, the school has given notice to the conference that it “intends to resign.” Per the report, San Diego State hasn’t received an invitation from any other conference to join.
The withdrawal letter, which came from San Diego State president Adela de la Torre on June 13, comes with complexities and prompted a terse back-and-forth between the league and SDSU. That included San Diego State subsequently informing the league that the June 13 letter was “not the official notice of resignation,” according to sources.
San Diego State would need to give a year notice to withdraw next June. If they wait past June 30, the exit fee that they’d owe would jump from nearly $16.5 million to nearly $34 million.
The seemingly obvious destination for San Diego State — if it leaves the Mountain West — is the Pac-12. The Pac-12 is losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten after this upcoming school year and would ostensibly like to keep a presence in Southern California. While San Diego State wouldn’t replace the Los Angeles TV market by any means, it would be a sensical addition to the conference.
There’s no real other obvious candidate for the Pac-12, either. Every other school in the Mountain West doesn’t seem like the natural fit that SDSU does.
The Pac-12 is also dealing with its own set of issues at the moment. The conference’s current television contract expires on July 1, 2024, and hasn’t finalized a new one. That lack of a new TV deal is a big reason why USC and UCLA left for the Big Ten. And also a big reason why the Pac-12 hasn’t been able to agree on a new one. Pac-12 schools received just over $30 million each in 2022 from the current rights agreements with ESPN and Fox. But the two Los Angeles schools are marquee programs for the league. Asking broadcast providers to pay more to the league with fewer teams and/or without a Los Angeles presence for the Pac-12 is tough.
And it’s made rumors of conference realignment refuse to quiet down, especially as the Big 12 and commissioner Brett Yormark have made it clear the conference wants to add members even after the arrival of Cincinnati, Houston, UCF and BYU.
Pac-12 member Colorado has been mentioned as a candidate for the Big 12, even though it was a member of the Big 12 before it left for the Pac-12 in 2011. San Diego State was directly mentioned as a replacement for Colorado in the Pac-12 in an ESPN report earlier this week discussing the possibility of Colorado leaving the conference.
If SDSU leaves the Mountain West for the Pac-12 or another conference, it will be jumping to a bigger conference as both its football and men’s basketball teams have been performing well. SDSU football has won at least 10 games in five of the past eight seasons and hasn’t finished below .500 since 2009.
The men’s basketball team went 32-7 in 2022-23 and advanced to the national title game before losing to UConn. It’s made the tournament in each of the past three seasons after it was 30-2 in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA tournament.