By Brian Murphy
You can add Idaho to the list of Western Athletic Conference teams that have contacted the Mountain West Conference about future membership.
The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman Review reports that Idaho athletic director Rob Spear has talked to MWC commissioner Craig Thompson. "We are exploring all avenues and this includes the Mountain West," Spear told the paper.
Boise State (2011), Fresno State (2012), Hawaii (2012, football only) and Nevada (2012) are moving from the WAC to the Mountain West, which is losing Utah, BYU and TCU in the next two years.
Earlier this week, the San Jose Mercury News reported that San Jose State was interested in jumping to the Mountain West.
Thompson told our Chadd Cripe that he has had one conversation with the Spartans — when they asked to be considered for potential expansion.
Mountain West officials will meet next week and expansion is expected to be among the topics discussed. But Thompson said he has not been given the go-ahead by his presidents to pursue additional members.
As it stands, the Mountain West will be a 10-team football league beginning in 2012.
If the league were to expand, Idaho would seem to be well down the list of contenders for expansion. But Spear has no choice but to pursue an invitation. Current WAC member Utah State has also been linked to the Mountain West, as schools look to jump to what is perceived as the more stable conference.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson acknowledged as much last week in an interview about expansion with the San Antonio News Express.
“Unfortunately, we're kind of held at bay until the Mountain West makes their decision,” Benson told the newspaper. “Obviously there are WAC schools that might be on the list. It's something we have to recognize as a possibility. We are certainly hoping there isn't any further deletion.”
The WAC has added Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and non-football playing Denver beginning in 2012.
Benson told the newspaper that Seattle, Cal-State Bakersfield and Utah Valley will be considered as non-football playing members. The paper reported that the list of potential football schools includes: Louisiana-Lafayette, Lamar, Sam Houston State, California-Davis, Portland State and Cal Poly and possibly new attempts at luring Montana and North Texas.
• There was some good news for the WAC. The NCAA passed a new rule that will allow the WAC to keep its automatic berths in NCAA tournaments, berths that were put in jeopardy by the defections under old rules.
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