The newest conference in the nation has continued to emerge as one of the best. The Mountain West Conference, which officially commenced operation on July 1, 1999, sent three football teams to bowl games and won a national championship (women’s cross country) in its first year.
The MWC was conceived on May 26, 1998, when eight teams announced they were breaking away from the Western Athletic Conference. Those teams – Utah, Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming – brought immediate credibility to their new league.
From a team perspective, when the eight schools splintered off and created the Mountain West Conference, they took the backbone of the WAC with them. Half were charter members of the WAC when it was founded in 1962: Utah, BYU, New Mexico and Wyoming. Colorado State (1967) and San Diego State (1978) both competed as WAC members for at least two decades, while Air Force (1980) was also a longstanding member. Only UNLV, which joined the WAC during its expansion in 1996, was a newcomer.
The split from the former 16-team WAC signaled the end to an unwieldy, nine-state, five-time-zone conference. However, the Mountain West Conference has maintained its geographical diversity. Some of the most beautiful geography in the nation can be found within the Mountain West Conference boundaries, including the unparalleled Rocky Mountain range, which borders four MWC schools (Utah, BYU, Air Force and Colorado State). The high plains of Wyoming (elevation 7,000 feet) contrast with the desert city of Las Vegas (the fastest growing metropolitan area in the West), the balmy weather and Pacific Ocean locale of San Diego State and the southwestern flavor of New Mexico.
The Conference officially began operations on July 1, 1999. Prior to opening its doors an executive committee was established and named Craig Thompson commissioner. Thompson had less than one-year to name the new league, settle on a city to serve as the league’s headquarters, find a television partner, arrange for bowl tie-ins, hire staff and develop a logo.
In addition to the 19 MWC-sponsored sports, programs like Utah and BYU have national titles in non-league sports. The Utes have won 10 national championships apiece in women’s gymnastics and skiing, while BYU won the 1999, 2001 and 2004 NCAA men’s volleyball championship.BYU in the Mountain West Conference
In 2008-09, BYU won 8 of 19 MWC titles outright, and won a share of the regular season basketball title. Four of the championships came from men’s and women’s track and field, and men’s cross country contributed as well. The efforts helped BYU finish the season ranked 47th in the Sears Directors Cup Standings.
In 2007-08, BYU won 9 of 19 MWC titles. BYU’s athletic achievement helped them finish the season ranked 41st 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 2005-06, BYU won 8 of 19 MWC titles and finished the season ranked 31st in the Sears Directors 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 2003-04, the Cougars captured 8 of 19 MWC titles and finished the season ranked 29th in the 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 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 2000-01, BYU continued to roll forward by capturing 16 of 19 MWC titles. BYU’s conference dominance helped them finish the season ranked 12th in the final Sears Directors Cup standings.
In 1999-00, BYU claimed half of the conference’s inaugural championships. The Cougars dominance helped them to win 9 of the 18 conference titles, including championships in football and soccer. BYU also won the regular season volleyball title and finished 18th in the final Sears Director Cup standings.