Aug. 31, 2010

 

PROVO, Utah (AP) -BYU is going independent in football, after all.

BYU says it is leaving the Mountain West Conference and will go independent in football while joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports in the 2011-2012 school year.

BYU and its new conference announced the moves in simultaneous releases late Tuesday afternoon, saying further details would be given at a news conference Wednesday at BYU's LaVell Edwards Stadium.

The announcement ended nearly two weeks of speculation since BYU's original plan to go independent surfaced, then unraveled within hours when the Mountain West Conference made a protective move and invited Nevada and Fresno State to leave the WAC for the MWC.

BYU had an agreement worked out with the WAC to join in all sports except football, which would play as a Bowl Subdivision independent. The Mountain West's catch of Nevada and Fresno State foiled the plan and left BYU with little time to come up with something else before Sept. 1, the deadline to notify the Mountain West of any plans to leave before the 2011 school year.

Shortly after the BYU and WCC releases, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson released his own, saying the league would continue to explore options for the future. It did not mention BYU by name or the Cougars' decision to leave.

"We look forward to the future with great excitement - particularly welcoming recent additions Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada into the Mountain West," Thompson said in the statement.

Boise State joins the Mountain West next year, when Utah leaves for the Pac-10, and now BYU departs as one of just four independent teams in the NCAA's Bowl Subdivision. The only other football teams without conferences are Notre Dame, Army and Navy.

BYU, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been looking into football independence as a way to get the school exposure.