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Utah State officially joins Mountain West Conference

LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Utah State officially becomes a member of the Mountain West Conference in all sports.
LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - After accepting an invitation for its athletic programs to become members of the Mountain West back on May 4, 2012, Utah State University is officially a member of the conference as of Monday, July 1, 2013.

Utah State’s football team will be the first squad to play a Mountain West conference game when it plays at Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 7. Utah State’s first Mountain West home football game will be on Saturday, Oct. 12 against Boise State.

For the past eight years (2006-13), Utah State has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference and has produced 26 regular season conference team championships, including four in men's basketball, men's outdoor track and field and women’s soccer, six in men's cross country, three in men's indoor track and field, two in women's cross country and one in football, women's indoor track and field and volleyball.

“Our student-athletes now have the opportunity to compete and grow on a much larger national stage, while enjoying the benefits of competing with institutions closer in proximity,” said USU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes. “Certainly our alumni and friends will have more opportunities to follow their Aggies on the road in league play. We are grateful for the platform the WAC provided us to grow and excel, and we look forward to the new challenges that are just ahead of us in the Mountain West.”

The MWC has produced 793 All-America selections among its 18 sponsored sports (men’s swimming was discontinued as a conference sport following the 2010-11 season) in the last 14 years, including a league-record 83 All-America honorees in 2010-11. A total of 131 MW student-athletes have also earned Academic All-America accolades in that span. The Mountain West has sent at least 25 teams to NCAA postseason events in each of the past 14 years, capturing three team national championships in women’s cross country and producing 33 individual national champions in the sports of men’s golf, men’s cross country, and men’s and women’s indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.

Mountain West members have participated in 56 bowl games under the league umbrella, including four appearances in BCS games. The MW has earned 68 postseason bids in men’s basketball, including 38 NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT Final Four berths. MW women’s basketball has tallied 60 postseason slots, including 32 NCAA bids, five Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite Eight berth since 2000. Wyoming won the MW’s first WNIT championship in 2007 with a win over Wisconsin. In women’s volleyball, the MW has had 36 NCAA bids with eight Sweet 16 berths and one Elite Eight appearance. Women’s soccer has earned 27 NCAA bids since 1999, with two Sweet 16 berths and one Elite Eight appearance. MW men’s golf has had at least four representatives in 13 of the last 14 NCAA Golf Regionals, while women’s golf has had at least three teams participate in NCAA Regionals 11 of the last 14 years.

Among its many achievements in 2012-13, the Mountain West sent a record five football teams to bowl games for the sixth consecutive year, and a league-record seven Mountain West men’s basketball teams participated in postseason action, including a record five squads in the NCAA tournament, marking the 13th time in 14 years the conference has sent multiple teams to the Big Dance.

Utah State fields teams in 16 different sports including seven men's sports of basketball, cross country, football, golf, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and tennis and nine women's sports of basketball, cross country, gymnastics, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. The Mountain West sponsors all of those sports except gymnastics as well as sponsoring baseball, women's golf and women's swimming and diving.

San Jose State also joins Utah State as the newest institutions of the now 11-member conference (12 for football). Mountain West membership for the 2013-14 season includes Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming. Hawaii is also a football-only member of the Mountain West. The Mountain West, which is based in Colorado Springs, Colo., was founded with eight members in 1998.

Utah State and San Jose State will be able to continue their longtime rivalry as both schools were members of the Big West Conference from 1979-1996 and then were reunited in the WAC in 2005. The two programs will be meeting for the 36th time on the football field this fall, which is the eighth-oldest rivalry in school history, while the basketball teams have met 72 times, which is the sixth-oldest USU rivalry all-time.

Utah State will also renew some old rivalries from its days as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (1916-37) and the Mountain States/Skyline Conference (1938-61) when it competed against current MW schools Colorado State, New Mexico and Wyoming. All-time, USU and CSU have met 68 times on the gridiron and 83 times on the hardwood, as the football series ranks as the third-longest in school history and the basketball series ranks as the fifth-longest. USU and UW have faced one another 63 times in football and 66 times in basketball, ranking as the fourth-longest football rivalry in school history and the eighth-oldest basketball rivalry. And USU and UNM have played one another 23 times in basketball and 18 times in football.

Utah State will also realign with current WAC members Fresno State, Hawai'i and Nevada as USU has played the Bulldogs 27 times in football and 51 times in basketball, the Wolf Pack 22 times in football and 44 times in basketball, and the Warriors 12 times in football.

Another familiar opponent that will return to USU's schedules is UNLV as the two schools were both members of the Big West Conference from 1983-1996 meeting on the basketball court 30 times and on the football field 20 times.

Utah State has been a Division I-A/Bowl Championship Series football playing school in each of its 115 seasons of competition. USU joined the Mountain States Conference in 1938, which evolved into the Skyline Conference until 1961. Utah State then played as a football independent from 1962-77 when the Aggies became members of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1978. The PCAA changed its name to the Big West Conference in 1988. Following the 2000 season when the Big West Conference no longer sponsored football, Utah State spent two years as an independent (2001-02) and two years in the Sun Belt Conference (2003-04) before joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2005.

Utah State's basketball team played in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference from 1918-37 and the Mountain States Conference from 1938-62, followed by independence from 1963-78. USU was then a member of the PCAA/Big West Conference from 1979-2005 before joining the WAC for the 2005-06 season.

Overall, Utah State football has played in eight bowl games (1946 Raisin Bowl, 1947 Grape Bowl, 1960 Sun Bowl, 1961 Gotham Bowl, 1993 Las Vegas Bowl, 1997 Humanitarian Bowl, 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), winning the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl and the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, while Utah State men's basketball has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 20 times (1939, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1983, 1988, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011) reaching the Regional Finals in 1970.

Furthermore, Utah State's men's basketball program is one of just five schools nationally to record 14-straight 21 wins seasons joining Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas and Syracuse, and has advanced to 13 postseasons (8-NCAA, 4-NIT, 1-CIT) in the last 14 years. USU's women's basketball team has advanced to postseason play in each of the last three years, participating in the Women's National Invitational Tournament twice and the Women’s Basketball Invitational once, while its women's soccer program advanced to its second-straight NCAA Tournament in 2012. And finally, Utah State's football team finished the 2012 season ranked 16th in the final Associated Press Poll after posting a school-best 11-2 record, winning its first outright conference championship since 1936 after going a perfect 6-0 in the WAC, and winning its second-ever bowl game as it defeated Toledo 41-15 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Utah State's success has not been limited to the playing fields as the Aggies have annually been among the league leaders in academic all-conference selections. During the 2012-13 academic year, Utah State led the WAC with 209 academic all-conference honorees and USU has led its league in academic all-conference recipients in 14 of the past 15 years including in each of its eight years in the WAC.
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