The Western Athletic Conference may lose yet another team as early as the 2011 season.
WAC member Hawaii announced last week its intentions to join the Mountain West Conference in football and the Big West Conference in all other sports. Hawaii is one of four WAC teams that have expressed interest in moving to the MWC. Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada will move to the MWC by the 2012 season.
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said in a Nov. 22 teleconference the WAC will have at least seven football-playing programs by 2012 and will continue searching for more football-playing members until then.
“The WAC expects to have minimum of eight members on July 1, 2012,” Benson said.
The WAC extended an invitation to North Texas of the Sun Belt Conference last week, but the university declined. Benson said officials asked California-Davis to reconsider joining the WAC in all sports with the exception of football, but the school declined and will remain in the Big Sky Conference.
Benson said the WAC would continue monitoring Texas Christian’s possibility of moving to the Big East Conference as a football-only member. However, TCU announced Monday its move to the Big East in all sports.
Benson said Hawaii’s possible move, however, would not negatively affect the conference in Bowl Championship Subdivision competition.
“If the WAC drops to seven football-playing schools, our membership in the BCS is not jeopardized in any manner,” Benson said. “The BCS does not require any minimum number of members. Our schools would all be eligible for BCS participation. The WAC would continue to receive the financial arrangements that currently are in place with the ‘non-(automatic qualifying) conferences,’ and our status under the BCS would not be jeopardized beginning with that 2012 football season.”
Benson said having seven football-playing schools would affect the WAC in that it may lose its representation on the NCAA Board of Directors.
“If the WAC should drop to seven football-playing schools, yes, the WAC will lose its status as a (Football Bowl Subdivision) conference in the NCAA structure,” Benson said. “However, that does not jeopardize any of the seven schools when it comes to playing football bowls or postseason football. The WAC could lose its representation on the NCAA Board of Directors and other NCAA committees, but there’s nothing that would keep us from operating as a seven-team football league.”