Coaches weigh in about keeping MW Tournament at Thomas & Mack Center

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt spoke for a little more than 20 minutes Monday on behalf of the other 10 Mountain West men’s hoops coaches about the league’s decision to change the format of the MW Tournament to eight teams for both the men’s and women’s events starting in 2017.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

In the past, and for the 2016 event, all teams were allowed to participate.

Here’s is Shyatt’s full statement from Monday. Quick hint, he didn’t hold anything back and needless to say, he wasn’t happy.

The MW decision, which was released on Dec. 18, also included keeping the MW Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas — the home court for UNLV — through 2019.

UNLV has won three MW Tournament titles there, with the last one coming in 2008. The MW gets a good deal in terms of “rent” for the facility, which was the driving force to keeping it there.

There wasn’t much talk about that decision on Shyatt’s conference call Monday, but this is what he said about it.

“None of us want to play on somebody’s home court,” he said. “I spent six years in the Big East and nobody wanted to got to (Connecticut). I spent 10 years in the ACC and nobody want to go to (North Carolina) for the tournament. In seven years in the SEC (at Florida) we sure didn’t want to go to Rupp Arena (at Kentucky).

“We always as a body (of coaches) knew it was about money and it wasn’t going to move.”

I talked to all 11 MW coaches at the league’s basketball media day in Las Vegas back in mid-October, and asked all of them their thoughts of having the tournament at the Thomas  & Mack Center.

Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy and San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik were in favor of it, and Fresno State coach Rodney Terry was “okay with it.” All the coaches agreed that Las Vegas was the best place to have the tournament, but most were in favor of having it at another venue there.

Even UNLV coach Dave Rice wasn’t opposed to moving the tournament to another arena, saying: “I’m perfectly fine with it moving from the Thomas & Mack to where ever.”

Boise State coach Leon Rice (no relation to Dave Rice) had this to say: “It needs to be in Las Vegas. At first, I didn’t like that it was on somebody’s campus. But after a few years, I have other battles to fight.”

What do you think, folks? Would you rather see the MW Tournament played at a different arena? Are you for or against the eight-team format for both the men’s and women’s events? Would love to hear what you think.

For more on Shyatt’s feelings about the eight-team format, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to