Mountain West and Conference USA to merge

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai‘i thought it would have nine new conference rivals beginning next season. Now, the Warriors will have over 20.

The Mountain West Conference, which Hawai‘i is set to join for football in 2012, announced on Friday an agreement with Conference USA to join their member football programs into one large association.

The new league will include 22 schools spanning the country from Florida to Hawai‘i.

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said the merger is a result of the two conferences trying to gain stability in an ever changing college conference landscape.

“The role of a conference is to provide its members with the best possible environment in which to conduct their intercollegiate athletic programs,” Thompson said in a release. “Rather than await changes in membership due to realignment, it became clear the best way to serve our institutions was to pursue an original concept.”

The merger was announced on the same day reports surfaced that the Big East Conference was courting Mountain West Conference members Boise State and Air Force.

The new conference, which has yet to be named, will begin play in 2013.

Hawai‘i Athletic Director Jim Donovan couldn’t be reached for comment before The Garden Island went to press.

Hawai‘i, currently a member of the Western Athletic Conference, announced in December, 2010 that its football program would join the Mountain West Conference beginning in 2012. The majority of Hawai‘i’s other sports will join the Big West Conference after being a member of the WAC since 1979.

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