Mountain West commissioner to step down at end of 2022 after 24 years in charge

The Mountain West Conference announced Wednesday that commissioner Craig Thompson would be stepping down at the end of 2022.

Thompson is the longest-tenured commissioner at the top level of college football and is the only commissioner in Mountain West history after the conference was formed in 1999. He said he was stepping down after his last priority as a commissioner had been accomplished — the expansion of the College Football Playoff.

“My one remaining priority was expansion of the College Football Playoff and viable access for the Mountain West,” Thompson said in a statement. “I take considerable pride in my committed engagement to this effort over the past two-and-a-half decades and look forward to the finalization of those details in the coming months. With CFP expansion accomplished and having invested almost a third of my life in the Mountain West, the time is now right for me to conclude my tenure and allow the Conference to continue its momentum under new leadership.”

The College Football Playoff is expanding from four to 12 teams no later than 2026. As part of that expansion, the top six conference champions in the College Football Playoff rankings will be a part of the postseason tournament. With five power conferences currently in existence, the extra spot means that a Mountain West champion can be in the playoff mix with a stellar season.

The Mountain West was formed after there was dissension within the WAC after the dissolution of the Southwest Conference. The WAC expanded to 16 teams after the Southwest Conference folded when the Big 12 expanded and the Mountain West was formed by a movement that included BYU, Utah and Air Force.

Six original Mountain West teams remain in the conference; Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State and Wyoming. The other five schools in the conference joined between 2011 and 2013.

Boise State is the only Mountain West team to qualify for a New Year’s Six Bowl game in the eight-year history of the four-team playoff. The Broncos were a part of the inaugural NY6 field when they beat Arizona 38-30 in the Fiesta Bowl.

December 6, 2014: Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson speaking at the conclusion of the Mountain West Conference Championship game between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium in Boise Idaho, USA. Boise State won the game 28-14. (Photo by Loren Orr/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Mountain West's Craig Thompson has been the longest-tenured conference commissioner at the top level of college football. (Photo by Loren Orr/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sports Wire via Getty Images)