Fresno State And Nevada Will Stay In The WAC Through 2012

The loss of Nevada and Fresno State, coupled with rumors that Hawaii, Utah State and others might be on their way out, could mean the Western Athletic Conference is in its last days. We'll keep track of the rumors, reports and official statements as they come in.

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WAC Reaches Agreement To Keep Nevada, Fresno State In League Through 2012

Fresno State and Nevada have been insistent on trying to leave the WAC after this season to join the Mountain West, but lawyers have been involved and this whole situation has taken so many turns. The situation finally showed progress on Tuesday, when reports out of ESPN Radio 1430 in Fresno reported that Fresno State and Nevada would join the Mountain West in 2011 for all sports except for football which would join the Mountain West in 2012. Also, there would be only a $1 million exit penalty to be paid by each school. That report was proven to be inaccurate shortly after the announcement. 

Now, there are multiple sources saying that Nevada and Fresno State will stay in the WAC through July of 2012 for all sports, and then join the Mountain West in the fall of 2012. The exit fee is expected to be lower for both schools, but at this time that information is not available. The official announcement is expected to come out on Thursday.

The main reason to keep Fresno State and Nevada in the WAC for football through the 2012 season is for scheduling purposes. Boise State is leaving for the Mountain West in 2011 and that leaves the WAC with eight teams, and had Fresno State and Nevada also left the Mountain West then the WAC would be down to six teams. The NCAA may have granted a waiver for the football conference, but the main concern would be in scheduling enough games for the remaining teams in only a few months time.

The prospective schools that the WAC is looking to bring in are: Texas State, University of Texas at San Antonio and Montana for all sports, and then Denver and Seattle University for all non-football sports.

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The WAC Is Suing Nevada And Fresno State To Attempt To Keep Them From Joining The Mountain West In 2011

The WAC is already on life support with Nevada, Fresno State, and Boise State leaving to join the Mountain West, but with Fresno State and Nevada trying to join Boise in 2011 the WAC is now suing to keep that from happening:

The WAC is seeking that Nevada and Fresno State not withdraw from the conference before June 30, 2012, that all defendants (including the Mountain West) be prohibited from scheduling contests that interfere with games to be played against remaining WAC members through 2011-12, and for further relief as the court sees just.

This must be a preemptive strike against Nevada and Fresno State, because they have said they would like to move to the Mountain West with Boise in 2011, but have not any talks with WAC on how to proceed.  Nevada is quite upset by this news:

"On behalf of [Nevada] President Glick, we're disappointed by this. The primary reason we're disappointed is the suit was filed before any discussions had ensued. We had publicly indicated that these matters can be resolved and that they should be resolved directly between the parties."

WAC Commissioner Karl Benson is going to do what he can to keep the WAC alive; he has already gone through multiple reincarnations of the league every since the 16 team WAC failed just over a decade ago. Just expect a lengthy battle over the next eight to ten months between lawyers for all parties involved while this situation gets worked out.

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WAC Is Now Insisting On Nevada And Fresno State Paying $5 Million Exit Penalty

Last week it looked as if the WAC was dead league walking with news that the $5 million buyout was not going to be enforced to Nevada and Fresno State, but now that is not the case. Including the five million dollar buyout clause the WAC is also backing up its claim that Nevada and Fresno State must stay in the league through the 2012 academic year. This is per the WAC offices:

"The WAC fully expects to receive the $5 million from both Fresno State and Nevada and will take legal recourse if necessary to obtain the money," said Benson. "As for the termination date, WAC Bylaws make it very clear that Fresno State and Nevada must remain in the WAC through the 2011-12 season unless the WAC authorizes an 'early out.' Fresno State and Nevada leaving the WAC following the 2010-11 season would cause irreparable financial harm to the remaining WAC members in terms of football scheduling and potential loss of revenue from television and bowl games. The damages that Hawai'i, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State would incur could exceed as much as $2 million per school."

This sudden change of direction from the WAC could mean that the WAC is going to survive these defections of Nevada and Fresno State, and signs would point toward the league coming to terms to bring in BYU in non-football sports. Plus, the WAC may also have a plan to add more football teams to supplement the loss of Fresno State and Nevada.

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The Five Million Dollar WAC Exit Penalty Is No Longer In Place

The WAC is really in trouble now because once Fesno State and Nevada left to join the Mountain West that five million dollar exit fee the league agreed upon last week is no longer in place:

When Fresno State and Nevada jumped to the Mountain West Conference, the 5 million dollar agreement between the WAC schools all went null and void.

Knowing that, Benson was asked what's stopping his other schools from leaving in the very near future.

"Nothing", was the response. And how right he's turning out to be.

The WAC maybe over as we know it since Hawai'i is considering independence, Utah State is trying to get into the Mountain West, and Louisiana Tech has always wanted a better travel schedule.  Unless something major is done the WAC may not be around come the fall of 2012.

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Report: Utah State Negotiating Move From WAC To MWC

Thursday, a report came out stating that WAC member Utah State had turned down the opportunity to join the MWC in a bold move to stay loyal. So much for that.

Today the repot from the Deseret News is that USU is “actively negotiating” with the MWC about jumping over.

A source close to the USU administration tells the Deseret News Utah State is actively negotiating a berth in MWC with WAC falling apart

Any conference move for USU depends on BYU’s decision on FB indy status. Nothing will happen before Monday at earliest

To be clear, that source says nothing impending, but that is the goal of current negotiations for USU.

That’s from Jared Eborn of the Deseret News. Like most of the other programs in the WAC and MWC, Utah State seems to be waiting on someone else, someone much bigger than them, to make a move first. And so we wait.

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Report: Hawaii "Fleshing Out The Possibility" Of Leaving WAC, Going Independent

If this were a Hot or Not column, jumping from one conference to another would be “Not” and going independent would be “Hot.” Fresh on the heels of BYU’s move to independence and with the WAC crumbling, Hawaii is looking into the possibility of leaving the conference and going it alone as well, according to the Sporting News.

Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that “we need to be prepared for anything.” A source told Sporting News on Friday morning that Hawaii believes it is an attractive option for ESPN—and its television dollars—now that the WAC has been mortally wounded with the losses of Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC.

The move would apparently be football-only, with other sports remaining in the WAC.

Considering Hawaii is basically guaranteed a spot in the Hawaii Bowl every year assuming they win six games, they don’t need to worry much about what conference they’re in when it comes to post-season concerns.

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