For Air Force’s football program, the options are pretty clear: Go to the Big East, which is courting the Falcons, or stay in the Mountain West.
The options for the non-football sports aren’t as clear. And if the Falcons do go to the Big East, they will definitely need to find a new home for their Olympic sports.
If geography is any factor, the possibilities would appear to be the Big Sky, Big West, Missouri Valley, West Coast, or Western Athletic Conference (or stay in the Mountain West, after Air Force has said it has doubts about its programs – particularly the women’s sports – having extended success in the MW). Air Force spokesman Troy Garnhart said there has been no official contact with any conferences since discussions with the Missouri Valley Conference. Athletic director Hans Mueh talked about those discussions in early October, but since then MVC commissioner Doug Elgin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the conference has no interest in expansion, and reiterated that to the Springfield News-Leader this week. Nothing can be ruled out since many conversations are kept private during realignment, but the News-Leader indicated the Air Force speculation “appears dead, at least for now.” Elgin and a Missouri Valley spokesman haven’t returned several messages.
Representatives from two conferences confirmed they haven’t had significant contact with Air Force.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said the last time he talked with Falcons athletic director Hans Mueh was in late September, and that was an informal chat about “what ifs.”
“Have not had any official discussion with AFA,” Benson said in an email.
Benson wouldn’t speculate if the WAC would be interested in adding Air Force’s Olympic sports.
Big Sky spokesman Jon Kasper said he was not aware of any contact with Air Force.
“I’m sure that Commissioner (Doug) Fullerton would be more than willing to listen if they did call, as he would with Boise State,” Kasper said. “Air Force would certainly fit into our geographic footprint, and make a great travel partner with Northern Colorado.”
The Big Sky will add non-football playing members for the first since 1979 when Cal Poly and UC Davis join next July.
A Big West spokesman said he could not comment on if the conference and Air Force have been in contact. Representatives of the West Coast Conference didn’t immediately return messages.