Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Fresno State, Nevada likely to stay in WAC through June 2012

By Ferd Lewis


Signs point to the Western Athletic Conference announcing an agreement today that will keep defectors Fresno State and Nevada competing in the conference in all sports until June 30, 2012, with a minimal buyout.

The WAC has scheduled a news conference for 6 a.m. Hawaii time today, but commissioner Karl Benson and UH officials would not acknowledge whether a settlement had been reached in the nearly hour-long conference call among the WAC Board of Directors.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said, "There will be no announcement until (today)." UH's representative to the board, Manoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw, did not immediately reply to requests for comment made through her spokesman.

Athletic director Jim Donovan referred questions to the WAC.

The last proposal on the table was reportedly to have Fresno State and Nevada make a combined buyout of less than $2 million before joining the Mountain West Conference, far below the $5 million each the WAC had been seeking per the so-called solidarity pact agreed to by the members in early August.

Indications are the buyout could be spread over several years so that the remaining six members, including UH, would receive less than $100,000 per year.

The MWC has said it will work with the incoming members on their buy-in to that conference, perhaps deferring initiation fees.

It wasn't immediately ascertainable if the defectors would forfeit their share of 2011 WAC disbursements. Traditionally, schools departing the conference forfeit their share of the WAC pool in their final season. Shares can range from $400,000 to more than $1 million annually.

In simultaneous Aug. 18 news conferences, Fresno State and Nevada announced their intentions to join the Mountain West. Soon after, presidents of both schools declared plans to begin participation in the MWC on July 1, 2011.

But the six remaining WAC schools (UH, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State) claimed the two deserters were bound to the conference through June 30, 2012, because they did not declare their intention by July 1 as required by WAC bylaws.

In September, the WAC filed suit in a Colorado court (the WAC is incorporated in Colorado, where its office is located) contending any departure prior to June 30, 2012, would cause a hardship on the remaining schools in terms of scheduling and TV negotiations.

The parties met with a mediator Oct. 7 and began negotiations through attorneys soon after.

Boise State, which will join the MWC July 1, 2011, was not involved in the talks or suit because it was not a party to the solidarity agreement and announced its intention to leave before July 1.

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