By Nick Jezierny
WAC commissioner Karl Benson held a teleconference Monday, aiming to "eliminate any of the reports that we aren’t going to survive. This is a very strong statement that the WAC is prepared to move forward and do whatever it takes to continue our operations.”
The conference is losing Boise State to the Mountain West Conference after this season. Nevada and Fresno State will depart the WAC after the 2011-12 school year for the MWC. And now Hawaii is in discussions with the MWC to depart the WAC.
Texas State and UT-San Antonio are set to join the WAC for the 2012-13 season. Denver will also join at that time as a non-football playing member.
The highlights of the call:
• Benson has reached out to North Texas and TCU about membership in the conference and will meet with Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan Thursday in Las Vegas about the Warriors remaining in the WAC as a football-only member. Hawaii announced it is negotiating with the Mountain West Conference for a football-only model and would move its other sports to the Big West Conference.
North Texas’ invitation would be for all sports, while TCU’s would be for non-football teams if the Horned Frogs jump to the Big East in football.
• If the WAC were to lose Hawaii or another member, Benson said the conference would not lose its automatic bids to NCAA championships. He cited new legislation that is expected to be approved in January.
“There have been reports that our automatics are in jeopardy,” Benson said, adding that it has led to “negative recruiting” by schools outside the WAC. “None of our automatic qualifiers will be threatened.”
• If the WAC doesn’t add an eighth football school by 2012, the conference would lose its FBS status. The seven schools — Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and Utah State — retain their FBS status. The WAC still would collect money from the BCS and be eligible for bowl games. The only thing the WAC would lose is its voice on certain FBS committees, Benson said.
• Regarding the WAC's bowl tie-ins, Benson said the league has "an understanding" with the Boise-based Humanitarian Bowl for 2013-14. The league has a tie-in with the bowl through the 2012 season. Benson said he envisions a partnership with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco and the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, but likely as secondary partners.
The Hawaii Bowl will likely remain affiliated with whatever conference the Hawaii football team is in. The New Mexico Bowl will end its ties with the WAC after the 2011 season.
BYU and MWC TV deal
• Here is very an interesting story from the Salt Lake Tribune about BYU and its problems with the Mountain West Conference's television partners.
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