Can the WAC survive more realignment? And what happens to Idaho, Boise State?

By Brian Murphy
bmurphy@idahostatesman.com

The Western Athletic Conference — home to Idaho's athletic teams and future home to most of Boise State's non-football sports — is holding leagues meetings this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Updade: The WAC released a statement on Tuesday morning: “The Western Athletic Conference Board of Directors is well aware of the changing landscape in Division I athletics and has been in discussion about it for the last several weeks.

Further, it continues to evaluate the impact upon the WAC and is closely engaged in evaluating its membership options. It will not speculate relative to those options, but it has confidence that the WAC will maintain its more than 50-year history as a preeminent Division I conference.” End update

The future of the league could be at stake. The WAC has seven football members — and several of them could soon be headed elsewhere:

• Texas-San Antonio, which is scheduled to join the WAC this summer, will accept an invitation to join Conference USA, Texas-San Antonio, which is set to join the WAC this year, will accept an invitation to Conference USA beginning in 2013, pending approval from the Texas board of regents.

• Utah State appears headed to the Mountain West, joining former WAC foes Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii (football only), according to several reports, including the Salt Lake Tribune.

• San Jose State appears to be joining Utah State in making the move to the Mountain West, according to reports in the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Review Journal.

• If North Texas (and Louisiana Tech) make the move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA — as reported by CBSSports.com — look for the Sun Belt to make a move to grab WAC member Texas State. New Sun Belt commish Karl Benson, the former WAC commish, hinted as much.

• Without Texas-San Antonio and Texas State, the WAC is also likely to lose Texas-Arlington, which was set to join as a non-football member in 2013.

That series of moves would leave the WAC with Idaho and New Mexico State as its only football-playing members, along with Boise State, Seattle and Denver in other sports.

Then what?

There are several options, none of which is all that appealing:

• The WAC could expand again, grabbing teams from the Great West perhaps, to remain a viable non-football conference. Utah Valley University is one likely expansion target. Cal State Bakersfield is another. While it offers a solution for Boise State and keeps the league alive, it doesn't help Idaho and New Mexico State's football programs.

• Idaho could return to the Big Sky Conference, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision. Or the Vandals could work out some sort of scheduling partnership with the Sun Belt in football and remain a member of the newly expanded WAC in all other sports.

In a text message, Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear said, "We won't comment until there is something official."

• Boise State, which was turned down by the California-heavy Big West and private-school only West Coast Conference as landing spots for its non-football sports last year when it decided to go to the Big East in football, could take another shot at getting into those leagues. The Broncos could also look at the Big Sky and, perhaps, explore other conference homes such as the Summit League.

Boise State could also return all its sports to the Mountain West — but that is an unlikely option at this point. The Broncos remain "fully committed" to the Big East, a move they made for TV money and additional exposure.

Original post: Saturday, April 28

The Western Athletic Conference — home to Idaho's athletic teams and future home of most of Boise State's non-football sports — is losing another member once again.

Texas-San Antonio, which is set to join the WAC this year, will accept an invitation to Conference USA beginning in 2013, pending approval from the Texas board of regents.

According to the agenda item, first reported by RowdyReport.com: “U. T. San Antonio: Authorization to accept invitation from Conference USA and to negotiate and finalize terms for athletic conference membership, including possible future membership in a new athletic conference”

“The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs ad interim, the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, and President Romo that authorization be granted to The University of Texas at San Antonio to accept an invitation from Conference USA (CUSA) to become a member, and to negotiate and finalize terms for athletic conference membership. Approval of U. T. San Antonio’s entrance in CUSA also includes approval of admittance to the potential new conference.”

The loss of Texas-San Antonio leaves the WAC with six football-playing members moving forward — Idaho, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, San Jose State and Texas State.

But even that line-up is shaky. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy is reporting that Conference USA will also add Louisiana Tech as well as Florida International and North Texas.

Utah State and San Jose State have also reportedly been contacted by the Mountain West as possible additions to the league.

What further defections would mean to the future of the WAC and Idaho's athletic department is uncertain, but the league is certainly in trouble. There are very few schools in the West willing and/or able to make the move to the WAC, which dipped into the Football Championship Subdivision for Texas-San Antonio and Texas State during its latest expansion effort.

In a text message, Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear said, "We won't comment until there is something official."

Boise State is slated to move its non-football sports to the league in 2013. The defections could force the Broncos to reconsider its options. Among the possible destinations for Boise State's non-football schools are the Big West, the West Coast Conference and the Big Sky. All, however, were options last year when the Broncos moved their teams to the WAC.

The WAC has lost Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii since 2011.

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Gee What Happened

Duh. BSU jumps out of WAC to WCC to Big East and along the way talks Fresno and Nevada out of WAC to WCC. BSU moves minor sports back to WAC after jumping from WAC to WCC. Any problem that BSU has, it was part of the cause. Only ones I feel sorry for are the schools left holding the WAC bag.

MWC not WCC

Never let the facts get in the way of a completely ignorant and idiotic opinion.

BSU et.al. will Never be in the WCC

Here is the problem

Look at the profile of the WCC, and the member schools. I do not think that you will see schools that do not fit that profile, and success on the court will be joining since they add nothing to the conference as a whole.

Exactly...

Cupcake State would love to be in the WCC but that conference isn't even remotely interested. Could be Big Sky time for the non-football sports at Cupcake State - wow, how pathetic would that be but really about their level.

Dumb and dumber

SOME people TRULY are just TOO STUPID to even bother with - lol

WAC Demise

It saddens me to think the WAC may no longer exist. The conference was great for Boise State Football and Boise State Football was great for the WAC. I hope there is some way to keep the WAC alive.

Independent

That is where BSU non-football sports sports will be.

WCC, no way only church based schools,
MWC , BSU just gave them the finger when they left with football,
BIG WEST, only california schools in league.

Big Sky, Just added new members.
PAC-12, BSU lack of programs and college regional rankings

To me it looks better for Idaho, They can make deals with 2 for 1 football games, and then get 1 for 1 basketball, or get the teams that travel to WSU to add extra day and get a game.

Falling apart like Days Of Our Lives

RIP and God Bless You Macdonald Carey

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"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

MWC and the WAC should

MWC and the WAC should reunite under the WAC name to keep the ESPN coverage and the old WAC records. It might be the best for both.

MWC Comish. Thompson wasn't

MWC Comish. Thompson wasn't smart enough to figure out a good future
for the MWC, he should have let Benson run the MWC, it would have
merged with the WAC and both would have prospered, especially with
the ESPN network.

GUY200

I agree with you both would've prospered with the ESPN network.

Now, with Benson out of the picture there should not be any rival or ego involved. Therefore, it would be great to see Thompson work with the remaining WAC schools and create a win-win scenario for all the remaining schools, particularly the non-football sports.

It will be interesting to see the landscape after LaTech, UTSA, North Texas and FIU join the C-USA. It would only be logical for the Sun Belt could pick up Texas St. but I could envision them in a WAC/MW alliance.

This was inevitable

When Karl Benson left, and the WAC didn't seem to have an urgency in looking for a replacement, it was evident the WAC was going to dissolve. Common sense said the MWC absorb all the WAC teams (yes, that includes Idaho), as it is a regional fit for all involved.

With LaTech going to the Sun Belt and a few others joining the C-USA, the rest of the teams are just fine. Boise State should be able to play their non-football programs in the new WAC-MWC merger.

I agree they should call it the WAC, simply for the TV contract. Thompson isn't half as competent as Benson, but there is no better alternative right now.

Personally, I think ESPN only was interested in the WAC when Boise State played in the conference. So, that may fall away, too.

The WAC will continue on...

The WAC will continue on just fine as a basketball/Olympic sports conference for Boise State. This is what the conference will look like soon:

Boise State
Air Force
Idaho
Seattle
Denver
Utah Valley
UT-Arlington
UT-Pan American

Coach Rice will have the Broncos get into the NCAA Tournament every year like Gonzaga.

Idaho will move its football to the Sun Belt as they did from 2001-2005, joining New Mexico State (who will join the Sun Belt in all sports).

Not an option

The Sun Belt has made it clear they want no part of Idaho rejoining the league. It makes no sense for the SBC geographically or competitively. Since Idaho left, they've become a much stronger league and replaced the recruting meccas of Moscow, Las Cruces and Logan with Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Idaho is out of options, it's either back to the Big Sky (where they've always truly belonged) or trying to make it as an independent with only 2-3 home games a year. Who is going to travel to Moscow to play in a 16K stadium?

Why not the MWC?

What keeps Idaho from petitioning to the MWC to join? Geographically, it's still a reasonable choice. And, Idaho Basketball is pretty good.

SILLY WRITER!

BSU bounces around like a Wham-O! product, no materr WHAT befalls the Western Athletic Conference!

Egad!

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"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?