Conference Expansion: UTEP in a Bad Spot

Ethan Miller

With news surfacing that San Diego State will return to the Mountain West, and Tulsa could move to the Big East, UTEP is now stuck in a bad spot.

In the midst of uncertain times around Conference USA, it has been widely rumored that the University of Texas at El Paso was making an attempt to leave the conference for the Mountain West. While that may or may not be the case, with more conference expansion news breaking today, UTEP may be stuck with no place to go.

First, it has been reported by ESPN that, per sources, the Mountain West Conference will reinstate San Diego State University as a full member, possibly as early as Wednesday afternoon. The move comes only days after Boise State's decision to return to the conference.

Assuming this is the case, the Mountain West will now have a total of 12 football members, and 11 overall, with Hawaii being the lone football only member. For UTEP, that's not a very good thing. In fact, it's likely the worst possible scenario for their hopes to make a move into the MWC.

On another note, rumors are starting to swirl that the University of Tulsa is prepared to make a move to the Big East, should San Diego State return to the MWC.

The Tulsa World's Bill Haisten writes:

"University of Tulsa officials report that the university still has not received an invitation to switch membership from Conference USA to the Big East or the Mountain West Conference. However, sources indicate that TU's conference options - if there are options - soon may be clarified. If San Diego State decides to stay in the Mountain West instead of becoming a football only member of the Big East, there seems to exist the possibility that TU could be invited to Big East as an all sports member."

The word of Tulsa possibly leaving Conference USA for the Big East isn't exactly the most shocking news. Those rumors have been around for months now, and with the Big East losing two of its "western" members, a school like Tulsa would be the perfect fit for the conference to add.

However, for UTEP, who seemingly has only one potential option - the Mountain West - the possibilities of a move are starting to seem less likely. At this point, the best opportunity for a move seems to be if BYU were to have a desire of themselves returning to their former home.

Considering BYU already has a fairly nice tv deal as an independent in football, and a nice home in the West Coast Conference in basketball, any move for them doesn't seem apparent.

So, in the end of this latest round of expansion, the University of Texas at El Paso may once again be stuck with no place to go. With the Mountain West having a 12 member league, and likely no other reason to expand, UTEP will just have to wait things out in Conference USA until the next round of expansion occurs.

That's no official word, but certainly seems to be the case. We'll continue to follow this expansion situation as it unfolds, and bring you more information as it becomes available.

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