MWC commish Thompson to step down Dec. 31
Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson, the longest-tenured FBS commissioner, will step down Dec. 31 after leading the league for nearly 24 years, he announced Wednesday.
“My one remaining priority was expansion of the College Football Playoff and viable access to the Mountain West,” said Thompson, one of four authors of the original proposal to expand the CFP to 12 teams, in a statement. “I am very proud of my involvement with this effort over the past two and a half decades and look forward to finalizing these details in the coming months. At Mountain West, it is time for me to end my tenure and the conference. Allow it to continue its momentum under new leadership.”
According to the Mountain West, Thompson, 66, is the only active FBS commissioner with more than 30 years of experience leading a multi-sport conference. He is a member of the CFP’s management committee, which consists of 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. Thompson, Swarbrick, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby wrote the 12-team proposal that was recently approved by the CFP’s Board of Managers for the 2026 season, if not sooner.
According to the Mountain West, the conference’s annual postseason revenue would quadruple from its initial BCS division levels in the 12-team CFP format.
“Craig has provided critical leadership to the MWC since its inception,” UNLV President Keith Whitfield, vice chair of the conference board of directors, said in a statement. “We are strengthened by his work as we move forward in the rapidly changing landscape of the NCAA and College Football Playoff debates.”
Thompson is the only commissioner in the history of the Mountain West, which began in January 1999 and was the second NCAA Division I conference that Thompson has coached. Under his leadership, the conference negotiated nearly $600 million in television revenue, conference teams participated in five BCS/CFP bowl games as well as six inaugural bowl contests, and Thompson successfully managed membership expansion. Led the effort.
Thompson added Fresno State and Nevada on July 1, 2012, and San Jose State and Utah State on July 1, 2013. The University of Hawaii also joined the league as the sole football member on July 1, 2012, while Colorado College became a women’s soccer member on July 1, 2014.
Prior to his current role, Thompson served as commissioner of the Sun Belt for nearly eight years and as sole commissioner of the American South Conference before the two leagues merged in 1991.
“The entire Mountain West Conference is grateful to Craig for his selfless service throughout our conference’s history,” said University of New Mexico President Garnet Stokes, chairman of the conference board of directors, in a statement. “His fingerprints are on every success and every initiative we’ve taken, and he’s positioned the conference to be among the nation’s elite. We’ll be celebrating Craig this fall and during our 25th anniversary year. look forward to celebrating , and even though he will be leaving. We are grateful that Craig will be available as an advisor to the MWC as we look at the changes in college athletics. We thank Craig and Carla and Best wishes for their children.”