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Despite talks of conference change, Gonzaga staying in WCC

Apr 2, 2018, 5:12 PM | Updated: 7:49 pm
Gonzaga will not be heading from the WCC to the bigger Mountain West Conference this year. (AP)...
Gonzaga will not be heading from the WCC to the bigger Mountain West Conference this year. (AP)
(AP)

The Gonzaga Bulldogs will not be moving from the West Coast Conference to the Mountain West despite talks about a potential change for the perennial NCAA Tournament player.

Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review reported Monday afternoon that Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said the school will not be changing conferences for next season, a final decision that was made in a meeting between Roth and Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh.

Though Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament in 20 straight seasons, it typically struggles to get top-level seeding in the bracket due to a lack of competition from the WCC in regular season play. A move to the Mountain West would have helped in that regard, as all but two Mountain West schools have made the NCAA Tournament since 2011.

While the WCC is also home to Saint Mary’s, which has built a strong basketball program over the last decade, only two other WCC schools besides Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have reached the NCAA Tournament since 2011.

A factor in Gonzaga’s decision is that the WCC has announced alterations to its scheduling and revenue distribution, which the Spokesman reports Gonzaga “had been advocating for years.”

The top two seeds in the WCC’s own postseason tournaments in both men’s and women’s basketball will receive byes into the semifinals, and the conference regular season schedule will go down to 16 games from 18. That will allow the Zags more opportunities to schedule marquee non-conference games to help their NCAA Tournament standing.

The WCC will also allow teams that play deeper in the NCAA Tournament to keep a larger portion of revenue distribution, according to the Spokesman, while the San Diego Union-Tribune previously reported that $1 million annually will go to Gonzaga in NCAA Tournament back shares.

The Zags reached their school-record fourth straight Sweet 16 last month before being knocked out by Florida State. Head coach Mark Few’s team played in its first-ever Final Four and national title game in 2017, as well.

Gonzaga’s women’s basketball program has also grown into a power, making the NCAA Tournament 10 times since 2007.

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Despite talks of conference change, Gonzaga staying in WCC