Boise State takes legal action against Mountain West Conference

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Boise State filed a legal complaint against the Mountain West Conference (MWC) on Jan. 17 in regards to the league’s new television contract with CBS/Fox, which ends the league’s relationship with ESPN.

Under the current deal, the MWC guarantees that Boise State’s home football games are sold as a separate package than the rest of the conference. As a result, Boise State receives a $1.8 million bonus every year. With the new six-year television contract, Boise State would lose its bonus money starting in 2026. 

On Jan. 17, Joe Nickell, Boise State Associate Athletic Director, issued a statement regarding the new MWC television contract, stating that the university does not support the plans. 

The Mountain West stated that this was the last time our deal would be negotiated separately. However, Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games” Nickell wrote. “This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward.”

In early December, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson joined Boise State President Dr. Marlene Tromp and Boise State’s Athletic Director Curt Apsey for a meeting in Boise. According to the Jan. 17 filings, as published by the Mountain West Wire, the meeting went as follows:

“In that meeting, Mr. Thompson acknowledged that Boise State and, in particular, its football team, was the driving force behind the new, and much more favorable and profitable, deal with Fox. Mr. Thompson also admitted that the increase in revenue to the MWC, and therefore, to its members, that would result from the new agreement with CBS/Fox was dependent in large part on Fox’s expressed interest in Boise State’s games and, as such, he understood why Boise State expected to, and should, receive more money than the other member institutions, even double the amount.”

Since news of initial court filings broke, Boise State and the MWC have clarified where the legal action stands at present. On Jan. 22, Nickell issued a joint statement from Boise State University and the MWC:

“Last week Boise State filed a complaint regarding media rights against the Mountain West Conference, however, that action alone does not formally begin a lawsuit,” Nickell wrote. “The University and the Mountain West are currently in discussions in hopes of bringing this matter to a resolution without litigation.”

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