Could Falling Pac-12 Dominoes Send North Dakota State to Mountain West?

According to reports, San Diego State has sent a formal letter to the Mountain West citing an interest in exiting the conference. SDSU has until the end of this month to submit a final letter to the Mountain West Conference expressing its intention to exit. The delay in PAC-12 media rights details has the Aztecs asking the Mountain West for an extension due to ‘circumstances beyond their control’ as they are also looking at a $17 million exit fee to move to the PAC-12.

The replacement for the Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference, according to Mountain West Wire,  could be FCS powerhouse North Dakota State:

“North Dakota State is a football powerhouse in the FCS, winning nine national titles in the past 13 years, and would be able to transition (from the Missouri Valley Conference in football) to the Mountain West Conference in football as a BCS member. The program’s dominant football team would seamlessly elevate to the Mountain West.”

All their other sports would follow them from the Summit League to the Mountain West.

The Jamestown Sun echoed the move. Jim Shaw, a local North Dakota writer and former editor, concluded his opinion piece with, “Moving to the FBS (in the Mountain West) would be very exciting. If the door opens for NDSU to join the FBS, the Thundering Herd should run through it.”

Shaw also opened up the other option of a Summit League football Conference as continued BCS members:

“If possible and allowed, perhaps NDSU could start a conference along with schools such as UND, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Montana, Montana State (and Northern Colorado). Failing that, maybe NDSU could join a conference just for football. A football-only conference would also save money. Moving out of the Summit League, with competing schools located much further away, would be expensive. That would be on top of paying for up to 22 more football scholarships with a move to FBS.”

Various sources have called for other possibilities than NDSU to the Mountain West. Montana, Montana State, UTEP, Sacramento State, and New Mexico State. However, none of these schools are as strong in football as the Bison.

Summit League Commissioner Josh Fenton may be looking to make a proactive move to keep the Dakotas members together with the addition of football to the Summit League before NDSU gets poached. If so, what impact, if any, would such a move have on Denver, Oral Roberts, and Omaha who do not play FCS football? Or, could Fenton be looking at adding both football and hockey to cement most of the members in the conference? Such a move could possibly pull new members like Northern Colorado (football) and Lindenwood (hockey) as permanent members along with associate members (St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth, Western Michigan, and Miami) from the NCHC.

If San Diego State falls to the PAC-12, do the dominoes reach the Summit League? Surely, Josh Fenton and member schools are looking at all their options.

Top photo courtesy of NDSU Athletics

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