Gonzaga put an end to the conference realignment speculation on Monday when it announced it would remain in the West Coast Conference, rather than jump to the Mountain West.
Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said to The Spokesman-Review:
“Our decision is to remain in the WCC, where we’ve had a great relationship for 39 years going on 40,” Roth said. “We appreciate the Mountain West pursuing us. However, for a number of reasons, maintaining our status in the WCC is the right thing for Gonzaga University.”
“We’ve completed all the discussions with the Mountain West at this point and time,” Roth said. “Could it resurface as part of the evaluation of the future? That’s a crystal ball I can’t look into.”
The Mountain West’s appeal would have been, simply, a better league for Gonzaga to compete in. Apart from Saint Mary’s and sometimes BYU, the Bulldogs do not have real competition in the WCC. The conference brings down its strength of schedule and gives Gonzaga fewer opportunities to build an NCAA Tournament resume.
To help solve the problem, the WCC announced changes to its schedule last week, which it hopes will better prepare its teams for the postseason.
Gonzaga may also benefit more financially in the WCC. The league decided to award its teams that advance in the NCAA Tournament a larger portion of tournament revenue. Also, if Gonzaga left, it would have had to forfeit $7 million in tournament shares, according to The Spokesman-Review.
“You look at what the West Coast Conference did to accommodate them,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson told the San Diego newspaper Saturday. “Congratulations, that’s a good deal for them. There are just some things in there that I don’t think our membership would have accepted.
“They’re offering some things that probably don’t make sense for our league.”
So, WCC fans can rest easy for now. The Zags aren’t going anywhere...at least before next season.