POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 25, 2010
The Western Athletic Conference and two of its breakaway schools, Fresno State and Nevada, are close to a resolution over their departures, according to people involved in the process.
Today is the 60th-day deadline by which the two were originally asked to pay disputed $5 million departure fees for their impending move to the Mountain West Conference. But asked if he expected the payments to be forthcoming on the deadline, commissioner Karl Benson said "no."
Benson did say negotiations that began Oct. 7 "are progressing" and a resolution on several areas, including payments and dates of departure, "might not be far off." He would not elaborate on the terms being discussed, but it is believed the two breakaway schools would pay significantly less than the $5 million the WAC is seeking.
The WAC Board of Directors, which is composed of member presidents and chancellors, is scheduled for a conference call this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday, officials said.
The six remaining members of the WAC (Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State) have been at odds with Fresno and Nevada since Aug. 18, when the defectors announced their intention to leave for the 2011-12 season.
The remaining WAC has maintained that, under its bylaws, they could not leave before June 30, 2012, because they had failed to announce the departures by July 1, 2010.
The WAC filed suit in Colorado, where the conference is incorporated as a non-profit organization, in an attempt to force the renegades to remain through 2012, citing scheduling hardships that would be raised by a premature departure.
In addition, the WAC has been seeking payment of a $5 million departure fee that the eight members (Boise State was not part of the arrangement) had agreed to in early August as part of a so-called solidarity pact.