By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
FRESNO, Calif. - From its inception in 1999, the Mountain West has been committed to excellence in intercollegiate athletics, while promoting the academic missions of its member institutions.
On Sunday, July 1, Fresno State officially became a member of the Mountain West, paving the way for new and enhanced opportunities for both Fresno State Athletics and the University as a whole. Nevada (all sports) and Hawai'i (football only) also join Fresno State Sunday as the newest institutions of the now 10-member conference.
"We are very enthusiastic about entering into the Mountain West as both our academic and athletic programs stand to benefit from our new relationships," said Fresno State President John D. Welty. "We look forward to renewing rivalries with several of the schools that we enjoyed previously and now look forward to the next chapter."
Progressive in its approach, the MW continues to cultivate opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the highest level, while fostering academic achievement and sportsmanship.
With a strong history on its side, Fresno State promises to add even more success to the league that sports three NCAA team championships, 32 NCAA individual champions and has had 125 Academic All-America selections. The Bulldogs have had 46 Academic All-Americans and won two team NCAA Championships (softball 1998; baseball 2008) in school history.
"We're excited to officially start our association with the schools in the Mountain West," Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh said. "I think the Mountain West from its inception has had exceptional competition and we fully anticipate for that tradition to continue. We expect Fresno State to be one of those teams."
Fresno State features all 18 sports that are sponsored by the Mountain West. Only the Bulldog lacrosse (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) and equestrian (National Collegiate Equestrian Association) programs will not be under the Mountain West umbrella.
"We hold great respect for the schools in the conference, have rivalries from the past and are excited to renew competition against those institutions," Boeh said. "The capacity that the Mountain West has to generate revenue as a league is greater and we expect in the future that we will be able to reap the benefits."
The Mountain West is noted for its geographic diversity. Some of the most beautiful terrain and landscapes in the nation can be found within Mountain West boundaries, including the majestic Rocky Mountain range, which borders four MW institutions (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and New Mexico). The high plains of Wyoming (elevation 7,220 feet - the highest Division I campus in the nation) contrast with the desert cities of Las Vegas and Reno, home to UNLV and Nevada, while Fresno State and San Diego State add a West coast influence with their locations in Central and Southern California. The inclusion of the Hawai`i football program extends the Mountain West footprint to the beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Fresno State's first-ever Mountain West league game lies on Sept. 20 when the volleyball team plays Boise State at 6 p.m. PT in Boise, Idaho.
Quotes from Bulldog coaches on joining the Mountain West...
Mike Batesole, Head Baseball Coach
"We are proud of our time in the WAC and at the same time we are excited to join the Mountain West. Everywhere we go in our community, everyone is excited for what this move will mean to our community and to Fresno State. The conference as a whole will be solid, and potentially great for our revenue sports. Specifically for baseball, it is exciting to renew some old rivalries and step up to a conference that is consistently getting better and moving forward."
Tim DeRuyter, Head Football Coach
"It's an exciting time for our football program and we know we are going into an extremely competitive league, a league that over the last five years has sent at least five teams to bowl games. The competition is getting cranked up and our team is excited about that. It's an exciting time, exciting for our fans and getting into a league like the Mountain West that has a lot of stability and quality programs is huge."
Trisha Ford, Head Softball Coach
"This is an exciting time for Fresno State athletics and Bulldog softball. The transition to the Mountain West is one that will bring a lot of fierce competition against some of the strongest softball programs. We look forward to the new challenges and will look to compete right away for a conference championship."
Lauren Netherby-Sewell, Head Volleyball Coach
"This feels like a refreshing move for our department. The WAC gave us great battles in the last four years and some unforgettable moments. But as I head into my fifth year as head coach and my first year with all of my own (recruited) players - there isn't a better time to make a jump into a top-to-bottom competitive conference. We look forward to mixing up the travel - exploring new territory and competing in front of new crowds!"
Raegan Pebley, Head Women's Basketball Coach
"Mountain West women's basketball is competitive and rich with tradition. While being confident that we can compete for a conference championship we are very respectful of the teams in the conference. We haven't won a game yet as members of the MW and teams like SDSU, UNLV, Wyoming, CSU and New Mexico have multiple MW conference championships on their belts. We know we must prepare with a tirelessly work ethic to get our first MW championship."
Rodney Terry, Head Men's Basketball Coach
"We are thrilled about the opportunity of embarking on our journey into the Mountain West, one of the most competitive conferences in the country. It is a league that produces multiple NCAA bids, high draft picks and some of the toughest venues in college basketball. It's an exciting time to be a part of Fresno State Bulldog Basketball!"
"Discover Fresno State Football" - The Bulldogs are looking to pack Bulldog Stadium Sept. 1 in their home opener against Weber State. Tickets are moving fast, join the excitement of the Red Wave now by calling 559-278-DOGS!
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