POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 20, 2010
In an attempt to hold onto its longest serving current member, the Western Athletic Conference has countered the Mountain West's negotiations with an offer of football-only membership for the University of Hawaii.
"The WAC has informed (UH officials) that if Hawaii wants to be a football-only member of the WAC, that we are ready and willing to accept Hawaii as a football-only member," commissioner Karl Benson told the Star-Advertiser yesterday.
Benson said the offer was made to both UH-Manoa chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw and athletic director Jim Donovan. Donovan confirmed the offer but declined comment. Hinshaw did not respond to requests for comment made through a spokesman.
"I'm certainly not surprised to hear they would be sorry to see us leave the league," UH president M.R.C. Greenwood said. "I have not heard anything directly myself."
UH announced at a Thursday night news conference it is negotiating with the MWC to leave the WAC after 32 years and join the MWC as a football-only member while placing its other sports in the Big West.
UH officials said there is a "strong agreement in principle" between the school and the MWC.
UH joined the WAC in 1979 with its men's sports and moved women's sports from the Big West to the WAC in 1996.
Until the announcement of Denver as a non-football entry last week, the WAC had required its regular members to field teams in football, men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball.
Benson said he was told by the MWC it may be 30 to 45 days as it figures whether Hawaii adds to the TV (MWC) value.
Star-Advertiser reporter Gene Park contributed to this story.