The Mountain West has been in discussions with Gonzaga about joining the league, possibly by next season.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said Wednesday that he has spoken with six university presidents or athletic directors since August about joining the conference. Gonzaga was the only school he identified.
Gonzaga, ranked seventh in The Associated Press poll this week, has dominated the West Coast Conference, winning 17 regular-season championships and 14 tournament titles since Mark Few became coach in 1999. The Zags reached the NCAA title game a year ago, losing to North Carolina.
A move to a larger conference would boost the competition Gonzaga faces during the conference season and help with seeding in the NCAA Tournament. No. 11 Wichita State made a similar move last year, leaving the Missouri Valley Conference for the American Athletic Conference.
The Mountain West and the WCC play their basketball conference tournaments in Las Vegas beginning this week. The WCC’s event is at The Orleans from Thursday through Tuesday, and the Mountain West plays from March 5 to 10 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Gonzaga has been one of the major draws for the WCC men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas, winning the event seven of the nine years in which The Orleans has hosted. The program has won at least 23 games a year during the past 21 seasons and made the NCAA Tournament 19 years in a row.
If they were allowed in the Mountain West, the Bulldogs would be the conference’s only non-football-playing member, giving the league 12 basketball schools. The league has been with 11 full-time members since Brigham Young left in 2011 (Hawaii participates in football only).