After last week’s news that Hawaii was prepared to move from the WAC to the Mountain West Conference it was only a matter of time before the WAC responded. That response from commissioner Karl Benson may come today as the WAC has sent out a media advisory for a teleconference Monday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. mountain time.
Benson to this point has kept quiet on the Hawaii news other than to say he was unaware of the school’s intentions. If the WAC lost Hawaii it would be considered a big blow for a conference that will lose Boise State after this season and the combination of Fresno State and Nevada after the 2011-12 seasons. All three schools are heading to the Mountain West Conference.
The WAC recently announced that they would be adding Texas State and the University of Texas – San Antonio as full conference members and the University of Denver in all sports besides football (the school does not compete in football) in 2012. An invitation to Montana was turned down.
Hawaii is rumored to be ready to join the Mountain West Conference as a football-only associate member, similar in fashion to how Temple belongs to the MAC. Hawaii then would join the Big West Conference in all other sports. The Big West does not compete at the FBS level in football. Some reports suggested that the WAC would be willing to offer Hawaii the same kind of football-only deal in order to keep them in the league, but that move would seem to be less rewarding for Hawaii.
If Hawaii does move to another conference the WAC would see their status as a Football Bowl Subdivision conference put in jeopardy. Conferences at the FBS level must have a minimum of eight league members. “Could this be a seven-team (FBS) league in football?” Benson posed in a report by the San Antonio Express-News. “The answer is yes.”
Losing Hawaii would put the WAC’s status at risk not just in football, but in basketball as well. NCAA rules state that in order for a conference to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA basketball tournament a conference must have a core membership of at least six schools that have competed against each other for at least five years. If Hawaii were to leave the conference would have five remaining members (Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San José State and Utah State). Texas State and UTSA currently compete in the Southland Conference and Denver is a member of the Sun Belt Conference in basketball.
“On July 1, 2012, we will have eight members,” Benson has said according to the San Antonio Express-News. “We’ve been told by the NCAA that satisfies membership, assuming the new legislation is adopted. And we expect it will.”