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Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson to step down at the end of 2022

"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."

BOISE, Idaho — After nearly 24 years in his current role, Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson on Wednesday announced he is stepping down. The move is effective Dec. 31, 2022.

On Sept. 9, university presidents voted to expand the College Football Playoff model from four to 12 teams. The CFP's Board of Managers announced the expansion would begin no later than the 2026 season, with hopes of the new format starting earlier. 

In Wednesday's announcement, Thompson said expanding the playoff was his "one remaining priority" to create "viable access for the Mountain West."

“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," Thompson said. "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.”

Thompson has served as Mountain West Commissioner since the conference's operations started in January 1999. The 66-year-old has spent 43 years in athletic administration, including time with the CFP Management Committee, College Football Officiating Board of Managers and NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. 

He recently finished membership with the men's hoops committee for the second time, with his first five-year term running from 1995 to 2000.

In his 24 years at the helm of the Mountain West, Thompson negotiated close to $600 million in television revenue for schools in the conference. He also witnessed MW football programs compete in five Bowl Championship Series (BCS)/CFP bowl games and six inaugural bowl games.

Thompson was the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner for almost eight years and is the only commissioner in the history of the American South Conference. The two leagues merged in 1991.

“It has been an honor to be part of the Mountain West Conference and direct its growth since 1998, the year in which the Conference was formed,” Thompson said. “To work with our conference staff and the leadership of our member institutions through the years as we have pursued our collective vision has been a rewarding experience. I am grateful to every person and institution who has been a part of our journey and I wish them—and the Conference—the very best in the years ahead.”

Much like today, conference realignment was a major topic in college athletics a decade ago. Thompson helped add Fresno State, Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State to the Mountain West Conference during the summers of 2012 and 2013.

Thompson also served as a member of the Executive Committee and the Director’s Cup Committee of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). 

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in journalism, Thompson worked as assistant sports information director at Kansas State University for two years. Thompson also worked in the NBA for three years, serving as the Kansas City Kings' director of public relations and promotions. 

For more information on Thompson's decision to step down at the end of 2022, click here.

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