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WAC to add Texas school

By Ferd Lewis


With the addition of Texas-Arlington, the Western Athletic Conference projects that its new lineup will raise its languishing men's basketball fortunes in the post-Hawaii era.

"We expect that the WAC will return as a multiple-bid conference in men's basketball and that our teams will be in a better position to win tournament games and thus generate more revenue that we've been leaving on the table in previous years," commissioner Karl Benson said Thursday in announcing UT-Arlington's impending membership.

The Mavericks will be the 10th member — and third non-football-playing institution — in the 2012 lineup. UH, Fresno State and Nevada leave the conference on July 1, 2012, the date that UT-Arlington, Denver (non-football), Seattle (non-football), UT-San Antonio and Texas State join WAC holdovers Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State. Benson said the WAC is still looking for two more football-playing schools to become a 12-member, two-division basketball conference.

The WAC, which regularly placed multiple members in the lucrative NCAA Tournament in the 1990s and early 2000s, has managed just five bids over the past four years.

Conferences receive a pay unit ($239,664) for each appearance by a member over a six-year rolling period eventually amounting to upwards of $1.4 million per unit. The more teams in the field and the more games they win, the higher the payout.

"I believe the WAC needs to re-dedicate itself to the sport of basketball, especially on the men's side," Benson said. "And, perhaps this period of time, when we have three non-football-playing members, we will be able to get back to the point where we are a multi-bid league."

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