POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 05, 2010
While the University of Hawaii is keeping a wary eye on other members of the fragile Western Athletic Conference, its brethren apparently have mounting concerns about UH, too.
Enough for commissioner Karl Benson to have made assessing the seriousness of UH's look into possible independence a significant part of his visit here.
While Benson attended the UH-Southern California football game Thursday night during a three-day visit, he also met with Manoa chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw and athletic director Jim Donovan about UH's intentions.
Benson declined to say what conclusions he drew and what he would report to other conference members other than to say, "They are doing what every other AD and president needs to do right now, evaluate their options."
An official in the WAC said, "(People) are nervous about what they (UH) might do."
With the announced departures of Boise State in 2011-12 and Fresno State and Nevada for 2012-13 for the Mountain West Conference, the WAC will be down to six members for 2012-13, unless new members are added. And, the reduction could come as early as 2011-12 should Fresno State and Nevada negotiate early releases.
The loss of UH, the senior surviving member in its 32nd season, or any other school would put the conference's NCAA automatic qualifying status in doubt and spell the end of the 48-year-old WAC.
Donovan has said UH will explore all its options, including staying in the WAC, considering other conference offers should they come, or going independent.
Chancellor Hinshaw said, "There have been a lot of concerns expressed during the last few weeks by our WAC partners, including me, in view of the abrupt departure of two members, so we have all heard some of that, directly or indirectly.
"Jim and I have been very open with the membership about the fact we are examining all options, including going independent in football. From my perspective, we have to do what is in the long-term best interests of the University of Hawaii at Manoa at this point."
UH has had exploratory talks with both the Big West and West Coast Conference about the possibility of putting its other teams there in case it goes independent in football.