The seven members of the Rocky Mountain D1A Conference have voted not to add BYU to the conference for the 2017-18 season.
BYU joined D1A last season and made it to the semifinals, but the Cougars played as an independent, with no specific conference to call home. This summer, BYU applied to be part of the Rocky Mountain Conference (formerly the West D1A), a conference the Cougars had been a member of before leaving D1A for the Varsity Cup in 2012-13.
While new criteria for joining D1A are now in place -- which includes that all coaches must obtain Level 300 certification, teams must certify a certain number of players as referees, 100 percent of players must be CIPP registered, and a $5,000 fine for dropping out of D1A within three years -- those criteria weren't what tripped up BYU. The Cougars are already in D1A; they just wanted to join a conference.
This year, the West D1A changed its threshold for admitting a new team. Instead of a unanimous vote for acceptance, only a two-thirds majority is needed. This, said West D1A commissioner Joe Cox, was done so that a single voter couldn't quash an entry. With the two-thirds threshold, BYU needed five out the seven members to vote yes. The Cougars got four.
"Clearly more than half of our members think BYU would be a great addition to the conference, but that view was not shared by all," Cox said.
Interestingly, Air Force, which is in the West D1A and is the program Cox works with, has scheduled BYU anyway.
"Personally, my desire is to get the highest level of play out of my conference members and to grow all the programs affiliated with Rocky Mountain Rugby," Cox said. "I believe that the addition of superb programs to our conference, like BYU, advances those goals. Having BYU back in the D1A, actually earning their way and competing for the real collegiate rugby national championship, has been great.
"Watching BYU make it to the semifinals last spring before falling to Life further shows the quality of the program that BYU has but also the quality of the programs that made it to the D1A finals, Life and Saint Mary's. Conference play is just one of the aspects of the D1A and I would expect to see an outstanding program like BYU in the D1A national playoffs as an at-large bid should they choose to compete in the highest level of collegiate competition in the country this coming year."
BYU Recent National-Level Results:2017 - D1A Semifinals
2016 - Varsity Cup Runners-Up
2015 - Varsity Cup Winners
2014 - Varsity Cup Winners
2013 - Varsity Cup Winners
2012 - D1A Champions
2011 - D1A Runners-Up
The newly named Rocky Mountain Conference remains at seven members: Air Force Academy, Colorado State, Colorado, Utah, Utah State, and Wyoming. (Utah was listed as a full member after fielding basically a second side last season. But Utah is still expected to be part of the PAC Rugby Conference this coming season.)
Last season, BYU played three Rocky Mountain teams, beating Air Force 77-15, Colorado 84-0, and Colorado State 93-3.
Meanwhile, Utah Valley University was approved as an associate member of the Rocky Mountain with a 5-2 vote. As an associate member they will play games with conference members and other members of D1A but will not be part of the conference table. (This is similar to what USC did with the PAC Rugby Conference last year). UVU will still be eligible for an at-large bid to the D1A playoffs based on their ranking.