From its inception in 1999, the Mountain West Conference has been committed to excellence in intercollegiate athletics, while promoting the academic missions of its member institutions. Progressive in its approach, the MWC continues to cultivate opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the highest level, while fostering academic achievement and sportsmanship. Now in its tenth year, the MWC has been assertive in its involvement with the NCAA governance structure and has taken a leadership role in the overall administration of intercollegiate athletics.
The Mountain West Conference is noted for its geographic diversity. Some of the most beautiful terrain and landscapes in the nation can be found within Mountain West Conference boundaries, including the majestic Rocky Mountain range, which borders four MWC schools (Utah, BYU, Air Force and Colorado State). The high plains of Wyoming (elevation 7,220 feet – the highest Division I campus in the nation) contrast with the desert city of Las Vegas (the fastest growing metropolitan area in the West) and the Pacific Ocean locale of San Diego State. The southwestern flavor of New Mexico complements the western heritage and culture of Fort Worth, Texas, home of the MWC’s newest member, TCU.
The Mountain West Conference was conceived on May 26, 1998, when the presidents of eight institutions — Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming — decided to form a new NCAA Division I-A intercollegiate athletic conference. The split from the former 16-team conference re-established continuity and stability among the membership within the new league and signaled the continuation of its tradition-rich, long-standing athletic rivalries. Five of the MWC’s eight original members have been conference rivals since the 1960s (BYU, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State), while San Diego State (1978) and Air Force (1980) were longtime members as well. UNLV entered the fold in 1996 and TCU began its first year of competition in 2005-06, completing the membership in the MWC as it stands today.
In the summer of 2006 saw the historic launch of The Mtn. – the first sports network dedicated to serving a single collegiate athletic conference. The Mtn. provides sports fans blanket coverage of MWC athletics across multiple sports, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s Olympic sports. The Mtn. features more than just live games and has added its own original programming. Fans get a comprehensive array of news, features and analysis about their favorite MWC teams and players.
The MWC television package will continue to reach a national audience in 2009-10 through a combination of telecasts on The MountainWest Sports Network (The Mtn.), CBS College Sports Network and VERSUS. The Mtn. is available to cable subscribers throughout the Western U.S. and nationally through DirectTV and Comcast.
The MWC has remained steadfast in its mission to promote the league’s athletic events to national and regional television audiences and will continue to grow its new TV model. Previously, ESPN served as the league’s inaugural official television partner, while in-house productions guaranteed coverage for several MWC Olympic sports. Through the league’s first nine years, excluding institutional local packages, 1,200 football, volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball events have aired on television, with 178 football games and over 159 men’s basketball contests broadcast nationally.
In 1999-2000, BYU claimed half of the conference’s championships awarded during the league’s first year. The Cougars dominance helped them to win nine of the 18 conference championships, shared the titles in football and soccer, captured the regular-season volleyball title and finished 18th in the final Sears Director Cup standings. During that same year, the BYU’s women’s cross country team captured the MWC’s first national championship and repeated that feat in 2001 and 2002.
In 2000-01, BYU continued to role forward by capturing 16 of the 19 MWC titles. BYU’s athletic achievement helped them finish the season ranked 12th in the final Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 2001-02, BYU won 11 of 19 MWC titles, including a repeat of men’s outdoor track, the team’s fifth consecutive title. At the end of the season the Cougars found themselves ranked 23rd in the final Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 2002-03, the Cougars captured 8 of 19 MWC championships. BYU finished the season ranked 24th in the final Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 2003-04, the Cougars captured 8 of 19 MWC titles and finished the season ranked 29th in the Sears Director Cup standings.
In 2004-05, BYU won 8 of 19 MWC titles and a share of the regular season title for men’s swimming. BYU also finished the season ranked 27th in the Sears Directors Cup.
In 2005-06, BYU won 8 of 19 MWC titles and finished the season ranked 31st in the Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 2006-07, BYU won 14 of 19 MWC titles and finished the season ranked 26th in the Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 2007-08, the Cougars captured 8 of 19 MWC championships. BYU finished the season ranked 41st in the final Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 2008-09, BYU won 9 of 19 MWC titles and finished the season ranked 47th in the Sears Directors Cup standings.