Deal is first Division I-A deal to include football, basketball for CSTV

Aug. 26, 2004 Staff

NEW YORK, NY ( -- The Mountain West Conference and College Sports Television have reached a landmark agreement that will place MWC programming exclusively on CSTV beginning with the 2006 season. It is CSTV's first Division I-A conference deal that includes football and men's basketball games.

The agreement between the MWC and CSTV includes all conference-related rights, from local and national television, to national and satellite radio, as well as marketing and sponsorship rights.

"This is a college sports match made in heaven," said Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West Conference.

For CSTV, which opens its 2004 football schedule with its first-ever Division I-A football game, the partnership is a significant milepost, dramatically increasing its profile among football and basketball fans, while expanding its roster of sports. The network recently announced new distribution agreements with Time Warner and Comcast, which will increase its reach to an estimated 55 million cable households in just its second year on the air.

The Mountain West Conference's current contract with ESPN, which expires following the 2005 season, required the MWC to schedule many of its marquee games on weekdays. ESPN's exclusive negotiation window expired in July, leaving the conference free to seek a new partner. This agreement will feature a significant increase in national exposure for football and men's basketball.

The Mountain West Conference was formed in 1998 when eight schools - Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming - broke away from the Western Athletic Conference to form the MWC. In 2005, TCU will move from Conference USA and become the ninth member of the MWC.

Mountain West Conference schools captured two NCAA championships in 2004, with New Mexico winning the skiing crown while BYU claimed the men's volleyball title. Heading into the 2004-05 seasons, Utah is ranked 20th in the AP football poll. Colorado State (11th) and Utah (24th) are both in the USA Today/CSTV AVCA volleyball rankings, while Utah is 24th in the NSCAA women's soccer preseason rankings.