San Diego State gave the Mountain West written notice this week that the school “intends to resign from the Mountain West Conference,” sources told ESPN.
In the letter, they asked the Mountain West for a “one-month extension given unforeseen delays involving other collegiate athletic conferences beyond our control.” As of now, there does not appear to be an invitation to San Diego State from a Power Five conference.
The withdrawal letter, which came from San Diego State president Adela de la Torre on June 13, comes with complexities and prompted a terse back-and-forth between the league and SDSU. That included San Diego State subsequently informing the league that the June 13 letter was “not the official notice of resignation,” according to sources.
San Diego State would need to give a year notice to withdraw next June. If they wait past June 30, the exit fee that they’d owe would jump from nearly $16.5 million to nearly $34 million.
San Diego State has long been linked to the Pac-12, which is amid a protracted process of landing a television contract. There’s been no formal invitation for San Diego State to join the league, and the timeline for that has been linked to either the Pac-12’s television deal or the departure of a Pac-12 member. “San Diego State does not have an offer from the Pac-12,” according to a source.
San Diego State is attempting to explore all options if it does get to June 30 and the Pac-12 doesn’t have a television deal done, according to a source.
“SDSU is exploring all of the options and asking all the questions,” the source said. “The intention of the June 13 letter wasn’t that San Diego State is exiting.”
Along with the one-month extension in first letter SDSU wrote to the Mountain West, they also asked the league to be open to discuss the exit fee. SDSU mentioned the income they’ve generated for the Mountain West through the NCAA basketball tournament — estimated this March to be at least $10 million from NCAA units — which they won’t see any of if they leave the league.
San Diego State also asked that a four-year installment plan be considered for paying the exit fee. As for now, they’d have to pay that money by June of 2024, which would include the league withholding payment.
The Mountain West responded to San Diego State and informed them in a June 14 letter that they accepted the letter of withdrawal and the consequences of withdrawing had begun. Those include de la Torre’s seat on the MWC Board of Directors being pulled and that they won’t be relieved of any financial obligation.
That prompted another exchange from San Diego State to clarify that the June 13 letter was not an official resignation, just a request for a month extension. They also asked that no payments should be withheld, which is the league’s practice to apply to the exit fee. (Mountain West schools are expecting a check for nearly $6 million in the upcoming weeks.)
“They’re trying to find out what we’re willing to do,” said a Mountain West source briefed on the exchange. “They want to see if the Mountain West Conference is going to handle this nicely. Well, that’s not going to happen. Everyone wants to find the best financial path for themselves, and it’s clunky.”
The Mountain West Conference held a call with athletic directors on Thursday afternoon that detailed the back-and-forth with the league and San Diego State. The news didn’t come as a surprise, as San Diego State athletic director J.D. Wicker has openly spoken about switching leagues.
That included Wicker telling ESPN in March that SDSU would be “ready to step into a power conference” and telling CBS in January that the Pac-12 would want to give SDSU a full share of the media revenue to prevent them going to the Big 12 and have that league recruiting their backyard.