Mountain West reverses course, will stick to 11-team format

LAS VEGAS (AP) Mountain West basketball coaches complained when the conference's presidents disregarded their vote on keeping the men's and women's basketball tournament at 11 teams.

Now the coaches are getting their wish.

The Mountain West Conference board of directors voted on Friday to abandon a plan to reduce the postseason tournaments to eight teams, protecting the original 11-team format.

''The Mountain West Board of Directors committed to a traditional format for the MW Basketball Championships which includes all Conference teams,'' a statement read. ''This course of action ensures the best possible decisions for the Conference as a whole, its individual member institutions, the student-athletes and their many fans across the Western United States.''

The decision was welcome news for many of the conference's coaches.

The coaches were asked last year if they would be in favor of trimming the tournament to eight teams and they voted 11-0 in favor of keeping the bracket in its current format, according to documents obtained by GoWyoGo.com.

Conference presidents apparently disregarded the coaches' vote and announced in December that the men's and women's tournaments will drop to eight teams in 2017.

That didn't sit well with many of the coaches who believe every team should get a shot at earning the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. They also were concerned that an eight-team tournament would reflect poorly on the conference as it tries to compete with the Power Five leagues.

''You play a season to get a chance to play in the postseason,'' San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said during this year's MWC tournament. ''All our coaches feel that way, cause that's what the players deserve, that opportunity to come and play.''

Still, no everyone was in favor of sticking with 11 teams.

Colorado State women's coach Ryun Williams, whose team is the No. 1 seed in this year's tournament, would like to see the regular-season champion get the automatic berth.

The Rams are 48-6 over the past three seasons, yet had not been to the NCAA Tournament until winning the MWC Tournament on Friday.

''To have to go win a tournament when you grind it out for 18 games, that to me, that's your best team,'' Williams said. ''That's the team that should go to the NCAA Tournament. Anything can happen in a three-day tournament. That's March Madness. It's built for upsets. It's just a tough position to be in when you're that top seed and to weather that.''

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