FORT WORTH, Texas (U-WIRE) -- It's official: TCU has been invited to the Mountain West Conference.
Now it's up to the board of trustees to decide whether TCU will move to its fourth conference in 10 years.
After months of speculation, Athletics Director Eric Hyman confirmed Wednesday that TCU has been invited to join the conference. The board of trustees will meet Friday in a regularly scheduled meeting and vote on whether TCU will leave Conference USA for the Mountain West, Chairman John Roach said. He declined to comment when asked which way the board is leaning, but published reports have indicated that the university will accept the invitation.
Steve Fink, director of media relations, said a press conference is scheduled for Friday afternoon to announce to the university's decision.
If the board votes to accept the invitation, TCU will become an official member of the conference in July 2005, Hyman said.
TCU would join Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming in the Mountain West. Hyman said he did not know whether the Mountain West had decided to invite any other universities to join the conference.
"It's my understanding that the conference is issuing only one invitation," Hyman said. "And that's us, TCU. The ideal size of a conference is nine teams."
Mountain West officials could not be reached for comment.
Hyman also said the university will need to pay an exit fee to Conference USA, and he said he hopes the conference will be fair.
"We hope we're treated just like our colleagues who just left the conference," Hyman said.
The "colleagues" are the five teams -- Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida -- that left Conference USA in November for the Big East.
Joining the Mountain West Conference will cost TCU an estimated $200,000 more a year in travel costs, but Hyman said additional traveling is only an issue for sports that travel to other conference schools to play. Sports such as track and field, tennis and golf compete in regional meets.
Hyman said one of the benefits of joining the Mountain West could be an increase in TV revenue. The current Mountain West contract, reportedly worth $48 million over seven years with ESPN, will expire in 2006. The conference will be able to renegotiate a deal long before Conference USA's $80 million, eight-year contract expires in 2009.
Roach said the board of trustees has been conducting an ongoing review of the conference situation, and Hyman has helped keep the Board informed on all aspects involved in joining the Mountain West. He said it would take a majority vote from the board to approve the conference change.
"Eric Hyman has spent a lot of time on all the issues related to the conferences, and the administration is very informed," Roach said.
If the move to the Mountain West is approved, it would be TCU's fourth conference in 10 years. The university has been on an odyssey since the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1995. TCU joined the Western Athletic Conference in 1996 and left for Conference USA after the 2000-01 season.
(C) 2004 Daily Skiff via U-WIRE.