MWC to sign BCS agreement

The first round of the Mountain West Conference's fight with the BCS is over.

The conference announced Wednesday evening that it would sign the contract between the BCS and ESPN, ending a six-month campaign to change the BCS and the way it chooses its national champion.

The Mountain West was the only conference that hadn't officially signed the agreement, which runs through the end of the 2013 season.

Earlier in the day, the Western Athletic Conference, which was having reservations about signing, voted unanimously to sign the agreement.

The Mountain West Conference released a statement Wednesday afternoon regarding its decision:

"... The Mountain West believes it has no choice at this time but to sign the agreements. If a conference wishes to compete at the highest levels of college football, and the only postseason system in place for that is the BCS, no one conference can afford to drop out and penalize its football programs and student-athletes."

On Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) led a hearing regarding the BCS' violation of antitrust laws. The hearing included University of Utah president Michael Young and University of Nebraska Chancellor and BCS Presidential Oversight Committee chairman Harvey Perlman, but it resulted in no change. In May, the U.S. House also heard the a case against the BCS, but no decision came from that hearing either.

From the outset, the Mountain West Conference and its commissioner Craig Thompson faced an uphill battle to change a system that has been in place since 1997. The Mountain West did propose a eight-team playoff to determine a national championship and a structure that would allow all conferences a chance to earn their way into the playoff. The proposal was denied by the 10 other conferences and Notre Dame.

The Mountain West said it has no plans to stop pushing for BCS equality, but for the next four years, their arguments will be quelled.

"The Mountain West will continue its efforts for change, including a request for dialogue with representatives of the BCS. Our goal is to ensure the eventual outcome of these endeavors is what our universities and student-athletes need, what the vast majority of American sports fans want, and what is long overdue: an equitable system."

Graham Watson is a college sports writer for ESPN.com. She can be reached at gwatson.espn@gmail.com.