Two major changes in college athletics took place last month, leaving a cloudy future for the Western Athletic COnference, and therefore Texas State.
The Sun Belt Conference introduced former WAC commissioner Karl Benson to run its league. This is just three days after Conference-USA and the Mountain West announced a merger starting in the 2013-14 season. Benson cited security and stability as reasons he chose to leave the WAC.
Since 2010, the WAC has lost four of its biggest programs (Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii and Boise State), and now its commissioner. The Sun Belt, however, will look to add to its 10 football programs, according to a teleconference Benson held last month.
“Without getting specific in terms of numbers, I think there is an advantage to getting to 12 to take advantage of some postseason opportunities,” he said. “I know that in the coming weeks the Sun Belt board will establish a committee that will look to evaluate the current and future membership.”
The Conference-USA and Mountain West merger also announced in a Feb. 13 press release that it plans on expanding from 16 to as many as 24 members after the 2012 season concludes.
Larry Teis, Texas State athletic director, said he was not surprised to see Benson leave the WAC, and is unsure of what the future will hold for Bobcat sports.
“Nothing in this business surprises me anymore,” he said. “Karl did what he wanted to do. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next so I don’t know (if it is) good or bad.”
Benson remained silent on questions about the WAC and a possible merger with the Sun Belt. Teis, however, did not rule out the option.
“That’s always a possibility,” he said. “I think everybody out there is waiting to see. Does the WAC change their name or add other teams? It’s so up in the air that you just never know.”
Benson did list criteria for possible Sun Belt members, including growth potential, academics and location. Future and current WAC members, such as Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana Tech, fit the ideal location Benson described during the teleconference.
“I’m not going to get specific but you can look at a map and see the FBS members that aren’t a member of the Sun Belt that would meet the criteria,” he said. “More than likely it would be football-driven, but we would look at academics and other sports.”