Conversation With Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson
Delighted to welcome. To our program, a very important guests at this unbelievably strange time from the Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson Commissioner thank you very very much for making the time I I, I can only imagine what your schedule is like. These days especially Zoom Bill Assuming there is one good afternoon. Paul good to be with you. You know I hope to mode no more about The next ninety minutes to two hours I have a four o'clock board calling five o'clock standing Monday de call, so we all compare notes and Kinda live by that old adage. God gave us two ears and one off for a reason, right? We're trying to learn from each other. Well we appreciate you making time I'm curious before we get down to some of the obvious questions Since, this occurred you. You've been very obviously active in in the NCAA, basketball tournament, having chaired the the men's basketball committee, and it all started there, and and I know in in your many many years is as commissioner. You've experienced so much but How do you? How do you prepare yourself for something like this? which is literally off the charts. Really is and you know again you don't because. no-one there might have been a few people worldwide They'd be well into their hundreds that were around nineteen eighteen. Spanish flu days, but For the most part, nobody's dealt with any of this Paul. So it's all new, and and it's It's disconcerting. It's hard. It's sad, but it's It's life and it's something we. We have to adjust to and and moved from. In as you get closer to what are really critical decisions, other conferences have made these choices many have not What what do you weigh as you're about to go onto? Another call here how how do you determine these things? Well, it's really got to beat a the safety and the health soccer you I think it's simply going to come down to what is the risk tolerance for for all the various groups just within our FBI subdivision and certainly there's. A rank and file and differences between the autonomous five leaks and a group of five leaks, but You've got you've got. A ton of governors. There's fifty state governors in that up BS group, one hundred thirty board of trustees, regions, one hundred thirty university presidents and Chancellors hundred thirty athletic directors under thirty head, football coaches, and I guarantee it dollar on the same page, and so you know we're. We're just trying to adjust on what makes the most sense for my university and ultimately our conferences. And everyone has a different set of circumstances as you said Commissioner Thompson but. It is late I think you know that we all we all know that. As you are about to go on these calls here in the next hour or two How do you start narrowing the window and coming to? Conclusions! Well we all kind of went into that false pretense and hope that fans should be better in July and August and we had time right back in March. We had four months to figure this out when we've got probably less than four weeks. A couple of weeks a big date coming up on Friday with you know the the six week period starting extended team practices, and then most camps opening somewhat in that August seventh time friend I! I had a good exchange with one of our head. Football coaches today saying you know I don't even know what to do. Because of campus regulations and concerns, we have one institution that's had nearly one hundred football players for little over a month. Now Paul and we have another institution that literally has no football players, conditioning of or working out degree, and so you know we're all over the map based on a local and university, muncipality rules and regulations and. I said this for months gone on standby. One of one of the big concerns and focal points for us is the state of California They just announced today that they're going to delay. The start of their prep season suggested until December or January didn't give an exacting, and they join a couple of states that the prep seasons have been canceled altogether one of our states New Mexico, so just just trying to deal with all the nuances and differences in rules, policies and allowances. As you as you try to deal with with some some issues before that certainly, the non-conference issues a lot of non conference. Games have been scrubbed. I. Has that been a major issue for you or Were you in reasonably good shape. Well it is a big issue, and of course years of all years. This is our twenty seven season A. We had more home games against PAC twelve than any time in our previous 21-year-history, we lost home games. Ucla at both. San Diego State ally. Utah, Colorado Washington state calendars on a state. They were GONNA play at the new two billion dollar NFL stadium in Las Vegas against UNLV so a lot of people like to point to that financial loss of losing the the six road at twelve games and a and a guarantee. Those seven home games from from both of financial interest level, and then ultimately you know television perspective CBS. Fox Aren't real thrilled. You know that we lost those seven home games. Talking to the Commissioner of the Mountain West Craig Thompson discussing all the variables. Commissioner. We. We've talked to so many different commissioners over these past few months, and as you as you so eloquently pointed out a minute ago. Everyone has a different set of circumstances and challenges you maybe more than than most because of the geographical aspect. But how do you think and it shouldn't be that hard to think about it since it's not far off? How how do you ultimately come up with what you would say? Good solution, not only for your member institutions, but for the safety of the athletes. Well again. You not to lean on your medical people and that's one of the. Major aspects of this board call coming up in an hour, so Paul because It's the first time that they in a while. They've heard directly from the the medical advisory group and you know they don't depend on them. You know they. They are the experts, will we? The board are economists and Then different walks of life. They're not medical people, per se, and so you know you really have to lean heavily on what makes sense I. I said four months ago and I I contend today. A lot of this is going to be perhaps probably triggered by what happens on our campuses. What they look like in the next month or so you know everybody's either hybrid mostly online You know there's GonNa. Be Certainly people walking around campus, but you know you. You really can't expect to have a college athletics if you don't have a fairly open in some degree. Campus. Commissioner I, it's no secret Wherever conferences are located and and and spread that football pays the majority of the bills there. There's some outliers of course but What's at stake you just from a revenue standpoint? Well you know. Let's all kinds of figures in I I know that A couple of our department said have lost Well in excess of ten million dollars now, and then could jump into without football alum Paul you know double and triple, and you know those are not insignificant numbers. They're smaller than the world. You live in I lived in Atlanta. For four years. New Orleans for twelve years both children born in New Orleans and well versed in an SEC football, and what it means in a walk of life, and so it's different, no question it's different I live in Colorado and and what it's like in Western states, but but none the less. You, do not escape whatever love your Ad. That football is probably that you know eighty eighty five percent of of an athletic budget, and and so it's so very important, but you know as harmful as painful rather as it is from the financial perspective now that cannot be the driving force won't be the driving force. It will be that the health and safety it'll be university decisions. You know I've always. Always felt. The presidents of universities and chances have an extremely difficult position now more so than ever because they're pushed him pulled in and all these different directions and you know I. Don't know how the decision will. Ultimately made would fall looks like from terms of football. I don't know who makes that decision, but Hopefully they'll be some clobbering collective. Let's let's go right to the College Football playoff. Can you even imagine a world where pick a number? Three conferences can play in the fall and seven up to play in the spring. What happens to see a p.? Is there a CFP? Does that make sense to have a CFP? I guess it might depend on those three conferences are and I use. You know you, you're GONNA have to look at this for for the good of everybody, and and you know the collaboration and collective exchange and we've seen conferences. Do things unilaterally I mean as a commissioner. You Work for twelve schools. You don't work for honored thirty FBI schools, and so you're doing what's right, and what's your membership is is directing and advise you to do, but we do have to get together and get the same page in some regards spor for the sake of the CFD for instance and the bowl system. I know at least I'm told in talking to your colleagues commissioners. We wind down. I know you've got a lot of meetings to that. You are a collaborative group. I mean that's a fact. I mean we see that all the time but it but I wonder though. Because we've already seen some some. Some schisms as we had the big ten, and then everyone else said something else I mean the PAC twelve and the big ten, and do you. Are you concerned about the stability of of what you do every day and try to work with everyone else within the framework of college athletics. I am and I'm not I mean again. We try to work together, but at the end of the day our plan for fourteen or ten members, order media have will dictate. What direction are leagues go and I know the NCAA takes a ton of shots, but the NCAA is membership driven. It's schools that are that are ultimately making decisions and the conferences the exact same way, so you know we can compare but I. I am concerned about The postseason college football, the the CFC's a five hundred million dollar enterprise NCAA. Basketball Championship is a six hundred million dollars in a prize number of conferences of two hundred and fifty to three hundred million dollar annual TV, contracts, and and we can't go ten I don't well. Yeah, anything's possible. You could go ten separate ways I. certainly don't think it's going to be that way at the end of the day. Commissioner will let you get back to your meetings, but thank you for making time. It was just a pleasure to to hear your perspective as someone who is so well respected. And revered in this industry we be well and let's hope for some good news. Stay safe yourself my friend.