The Mountain West is set up to be a better league because of San Diego State.
Each round the Aztecs advanced, up until the Final Four, was a proverbial payday for the conference's teams and tournament participants. Given their run to face Florida Atlantic in the semifinals, every Mountain West school is set to receive roughly $212,000 per year for the next six years.
In total, the conference's entrants, along with San Diego State's run are set to bring in roughly $16 million overall.
San Diego State joins Utah State, Nevada and Boise State as the schools that will receive a bonus portion of the funds because of their tournament bids. Nevada played in the First Four where it fell to Arizona State.
Hawaii, conversely, is left out of the funding for basketball. It only receives football stipends due to playing the two sports in different conferences.
Rules from the NCAA don't give direct guidance for the funds, only a recommendation that the conference split the rewards evenly. The money is also not eligible for Name, Image and Likeness purposes.
For comparison, the SEC will take home the largest haul for any conference with $34 million. Eight teams combined to play 17 games for the conference typically associated most with football success.
The funds will go toward helping the conference become a bigger, better version of itself. Whether it be facilities, scholarships or even coaching staff, the influx of money will be a welcome addition to each of the conference's programs.
For Air Force, which finished with the league's lowest average and overall attendance, the funds may be even more vital.
"These are real dollars that will benefit our schools and their student-athletes in different ways," Mountain West commissioner Gloria Nevarez said. "Each will use it in different ways, but it's no small chunk of change, by any means."
The Mountain West was also able to obtain plenty of exposure this March.
After hosting its conference tournament, Nevarez and company ran the Denver site for the NCAA Tournament — the purple "MW" logo in the corner of the court in multiple high-interest games, including No. 3 Gonzaga and No. 6 TCU in the second round.
Nevarez has only been on the job since January after being elected to replace the conference's inaugural commissioner, Craig Thompson.
The whirlwind of work the conference had to do in March exemplified to her the good hands the Mountain West is and will be going forward.
"We're built to run big events and all the credit goes to the Mountain West staff, they did this thing at a high level," Nevarez said. "We took a couple of days off to recharge, but three or four of us immediately went back on the road to be with San Diego State.
"Being part of something like this has just been so fun and our whole staff is thrilled to see San Diego State in the Final Four."
Alongside Nevarez, a group of Mountain West staffers will accompany the Aztecs on their trip to Houston. Media content, business meetings and helping the team navigate its first trip to the Final Four are all on the objective list.
Outside of the cash influx, the conference has also received an exposure boost. This is the first time a team from the conference has reached this stage, and may just set up the next team to do so. It's a point not lost on the in-season rivals of the Aztecs.
"We fight tooth and nail against each other during the season, but when the tournament comes, everyone aligns," Nevarez said. "It's been great to see how much each of our members has supported San Diego State in its run."
The looming questions over the Aztecs' run now revolve around how many additional runs the program will make, and more importantly, where they will be.
Rumors have linked San Diego State to the PAC-12 conference which is in search of replacements after losing top programs USC and UCLA to the BIG-10.
If the Aztecs do leave the conference, they will be leaving a parting present to their fellow Mountain West programs. And with their own departure, they may also have their own rewards cut as funds given to the conference don't travel with a team that realigns with a different conference.
The PAC-12 would then be on the hook for supplying any funds made during the tournament. And sharing its own pot with the Aztecs wouldn't be required.
There's no doubt the conference improved from its first deep run into the NCAA postseason. Questions of where San Diego State will end up eventually are simply on the back burner, for now.
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