Tuesday, November 24, 2015         

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WAC, departing schools settle

By Star-Advertiser staff


The Western Athletic Conference didn't get everything, but it got what it wanted most in its settlement with Fresno State and Nevada yesterday.

The schools wanted out of the WAC in time to join the Mountain West Conference this fall. They've now agreed to remain through the entire 2011-12 sports calendar.

"That was the primary concern of the six remaining schools," Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan said. "To clear up the scheduling issue as quickly as possible."

Fresno State and Nevada were also each subject to a $5 million penalty for leaving the conference because of a loyalty agreement, the WAC contended. The amount was lowered to $900,000 each "after several weeks of negotiation," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said.

"It was the best settlement that could've been negotiated without going to court," Donovan said, adding that a continued fight could have been long and expensive. "I'm not a legal expert, but my guess is a few months to several years."

The WAC contended that the schools could not leave after this spring because they missed a July 1 deadline to announce their planned exits.

"To allow Nevada and Fresno to leave (after this spring) would put the WAC at a tremendous disadvantage," Benson said.

He said losing the schools would hurt the league's contract with ESPN for football games and also cost potential BCS money and NCAA and WAC basketball tournament revenue.

According to the settlement, each school will make five payments of $180,000 to the WAC on Aug. 1 of each year from 2011 to 2015.

Also, representatives of the remaining six WAC members -- Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State -- met yesterday by teleconference to discuss the future of the league.

Benson repeated that Denver, Montana, Seattle, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State are potential new WAC members, and he said invitations could go out within 30 days. Denver and Seattle do not have football teams.

"We're in the same position we were 60 days ago," Benson said. "For 2012 we definitely need three football-playing schools," to replace Boise State (which leaves the WAC for the MWC after this year), Fresno State and Nevada.

Boise State was not subject to penalties for leaving the WAC after this competition year because it announced its intention to do so before the July deadline.

Nevada and Fresno State will forfeit shares of league money for the 2011-12 season, Benson said. Boise State will forfeit an estimated $750,000 at the close of the 2010-11 season before it leaves, but will keep its share of whatever BCS bowl money it should generate this year.

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