MWC joins big-time swag game

Everyone knows schools can't provide expensive gifts to their student-athletes under the NCAA's strict policies.

Apparently, the same rules don't apply to conferences. published a list of what each league is giving to players competing in conference basketball tournaments this week. It's not exactly a set of steak knives and a cup of coffee.

Well, maybe you'd prefer those things if you played in the Mid-American Conference or the Patriot League, which don't give participants anything.

Some leagues go the simple route and hand out T-shirts (Big West) or sweatshirts (several leagues, including America East, Atlantic Sun and Summit League).

The Southland Conference hands out leather business organizers/notepads, which can come in handy in the classroom.

Horizon League players get sweatpants, hooded sweatshirts and knit caps, which sounds like a bank robber starter kit.

Most of the major conferences provide big-time goody bags. The iPod Touch is the favored gift for the Big East, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference tournaments.

The Pac-10 is an exception. The soon-to-expand-to-12 league gives each player who takes the court at Staples Center in Los Angeles a backpack full of snacks and a bottle of Dr Pepper.

Trying to prove it belongs among the major conferences, the Mountain West is a swag heavyweight.

Each player at the conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center has his/her choice of any one of several items, including men's and women's watches, HD mini camcorders and iPod Dock audio systems with dual alarm clocks, digital cameras and compu-backpacks.

Players aren't as lucky across town at Orleans Arena, though rumors the players at the Western Athletic Conference tournament could trade in their travel bags and T-shirts for $50 of slot credit haven't been substantiated.

■ LOOKING GOOD -- Far be it from us at Leftovers to assume the role of Joan Rivers and the daughter of that singer who was on a reality show, but it is hard to ignore the sharply dressed Brandon Davies on the Brigham Young bench at the Mountain West tournament.

Davies, the starting forward who was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating the school's honor code by having sex with his girlfriend, wasn't expected to be in attendance with the team.

But he has been on the bench for each game, impeccably dressed as if he were on his way to homecoming.

We point this out only because this is Las Vegas and the players are in the arena for only a few hours a day.

One would assume Davies is putting the threads to the test at night. He's sure to break lots of young ladies' hearts.

■ NO MORE TEARS -- The Mountain West tournament media center has turned into the place to be for coaches wishing to express their emotions.

Last year, Utah's Jim Boylen broke down sobbing during a news conference. He almost did so again Thursday.

Instead, it was Colorado State's Tim Miles tearfully talking about an injury to Adam Nigon that kept him out of the Rams' loss to New Mexico.

It could be worse. The coaches could use the conference tournament to get drunk and verbally assault boosters of rival schools.

That's reserved for the Pac-10 tournament.