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 12th 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 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.
The MWC has produced 595 All-America selections among its 19 sponsored sports in the last 11 years, including a league-record 56 All-America honorees in 2009-10. A total of 110 MWC student-athletes have also earned Academic All-America accolades in that span, while 34 MWC student-athletes have earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. The MWC has sent at least 30 teams to NCAA postseason events each of the past 11 years. Mountain West teams have captured three NCAA team championships over the last 11 years, with BYU claiming three national titles in women’s cross country.
Additionally, the MWC has produced 24 NCAA individual national champions in the sports of men’s golf, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field.
Mountain West members have participated in 41 bowl games in 11 years, led by Utah’s 9-0 mark in postseason contests. The MWC has earned 50 postseason bids in men’s basketball, including 26 NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT Final Four berths. MWC women’s basketball has tallied 51 postseason bids, including 29 NCAA bids, five Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite Eight berth since 2000. Wyoming won the MWC’s first WNIT championship in 2007 with a win over Wisconsin. In women’s volleyball, the MWC has had 31 NCAA bids with eight Sweet 16 berths and one Elite Eight appearance. Women’s soccer has earned 23 NCAA bids since 1999, with BYU advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2000 and the Elite Eight in 2003. MWC men’s golf has had at least four representatives in each of the last 11 NCAA Golf Regionals, while women’s tennis has had at least two teams participate in NCAA Regionals each of the last 10 years.
The MWC television package will continue to reach a national audience in 2010-11 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. Nearly 25,000 hours of MWC programming have aired on The Mtn. since the network's launch.