Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson announces retirement plans after 24 years with conference

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Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson announced plans Wednesday to step down after 24 years leading the conference. The one and only commissioner in the Mountain West’s history, Thompson’s influence during his tenure extends beyond his conference’s footprint as a visible figure throughout the NCAA Division I landscape — most recently with the expansion of the College Football Playoff field from four teams to 12. 

Thompson is part of the College Football Playoff Management Committee and worked closely with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to draw up expansion plans for college football’s postseason. In his outgoing statement, Thompson cited the CFP’s recently solidified expansion plans as a proud final accomplishment during his decades-long career.

“My one remaining priority was expansion of the College Football Playoff and viable access for the Mountain West,” said Thompson, who will retire at the end of the year. “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.”

Among his other notable achievements, Thompson guided the league through a period of realignment a decade ago, overseeing the additions of Fresno State, Nevada, San José State and Utah State, along with Hawai’i as a football-only member.

“Craig has provided important leadership to the MWC since its inception,” said UNLV President Keith Whitfield, the vice chair of the Mountain West’s board of directors. “We are stronger because of his work as we go forward into a quickly changing landscape in the NCAA and the College Football Playoff discussions.”

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