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MWC can make first move

The Big Ten Conference still owns the ball, but the Mountain West Conference is expected to take the first shot.

That’s because the Big Ten has decided to take its time before making expansion decisions, which gives the Mountain West a chance to be proactive at next month’s MWC presidents meetings.

Expect the Mountain West to invite Boise State to join the league, a major step toward the conference receiving an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series.

The Idaho Statesman is treating the matter as a foregone conclusion, running a series of stories about what it would mean for Boise State.

Mountain West presidents, who meet June 6 to 8 in Jackson Hole, Wyo., have warmed to the idea of inviting Boise State because it’s all but inevitable that the Big Ten will expand, which could set off a chain reaction for conferences around the country.

Seven of the nine MWC presidents must agree in order for the league to approve the expansion.

It could be close but should get done.

“My personal opinion is there are more of my colleagues that are likely to say yes,” San Diego State president Stephen Weber told the Statesman.

■ HELPING HANLEY — There’s nothing like a dressing-down from a couple of Hall of Famers to get a wayward player’s attention.

At least you would hope so.

Neither Andre Dawson nor Tony Perez, who both work in the Marlins’ front office, was happy that Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez failed to hustle after booting a grounder Monday and then publicly ridiculed manager Fredi Gonzalez for yanking him.

“You really have stepped across the line,” Dawson told Ramirez, according to The Palm Beach Post. “You owe that manager a sincere apology. And if you think your teammates have your back with this, you’ve got another thing coming because the mindset … is these guys are laughing at you.”

■ TROUBLED NHL, TROUBLED NBA? — You remember the NHL, right?

It was a semi-popular hockey league that nearly committed suicide by taking the 2004-05 season off because of a lockout and now is shown on a network that carries Mountain West games.

Recent news about the difficulty of selling the Phoenix Coyotes and the Florida Panthers’ decision to lose more than 2,000 seats feeds into the perception of a troubled league.

But could the NHL be in a better position than the NBA? That’s what Ted Leonsis, the Washington Capitals owner who is in the process of buying the Washington Wizards, told The Associated Press.

“There is a hard cap in the NHL,” he said. “In the NBA, you can spend a lot of money and every dollar you’re over this luxury tax you get fined. And there’s a lot of basketball teams who are losing a lot of money.”

With a labor dispute on the horizon, Leonsis could be posturing. Or he could simply be telling the truth, which means NBA fans should brace for a lockout.

And maybe future games on Versus.

COMPILED BY MARK ANDERSON
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

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