POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 23, 2010
Could the University of Hawaii's departure, much as the Western Athletic Conference still hopes to prevent it, help recast the league?
Commissioner Karl Benson, who said he is making a run at North Texas as a replacement for UH, held out the possibility of the Warriors' exit helping the conference reshape itself.
Benson told a media teleconference, "perhaps even the departure of Hawaii -- or possible departure -- may make the WAC more attractive to North Texas in not having to incur travel costs of all the other sports to Hawaii."
UH has been involved in discussions with the Mountain West Conference about relocating its football and moving some other sports to the Big West.
But Benson made it clear the WAC values UH and will work to retain its longest-serving member of 32 years.
Benson, who said he had not heard from UH officials since soon after their Thursday night announcement of MWC intent, announced he is scheduled to meet with UH athletic director Jim Donovan in Las Vegas today. Both are attending the WAC volleyball championships.
"I'm willing to meet with him," Donovan said.
Benson said, "I will reiterate the WAC's desire for Hawaii to remain in the WAC and our willingness to work with Hawaii to create a structure that will be beneficial to them and to the WAC."
Benson said, "Our intention here is to let the University of Hawaii know they are a valued member of the WAC."
Benson declined to elaborate on what proposals he might make to Donovan. However, he reaffirmed an offer made last Thursday to permit UH to remain as a football-only member, if Hawaii so chooses.
Without UH, the WAC will more heavily pursue its southwest swing. This month, it announced the addition of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State in all sports and Denver as a nonfootball member.
Benson said he also is offering Texas Christian the opportunity to place its remaining sports in the WAC if the Horned Frogs relocate their football team to the Big East.
The WAC pursued North Texas previously, but the Mean Green opted to remain in the Sun Belt and work toward Conference USA membership in large part for geographic concerns.
Benson vowed the WAC will survive and said the league "expects to have a minimum of eight members on July 1, 2012 (the date UH would leave if accepted by the MWC)."