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WAC expansion unlikely

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The Western Athletic Conference Board of Directors has scheduled a call today and signs increasingly point to the unlikelihood expansion will take place in time to add a school for the 2011-12 school year.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson confirmed the conference call but declined comment on whether any offers might be made.

It will be at least the third time the board, which is composed of presidents and chancellors of the member institutions, has met since Boise State’s June 11 announcement of plans to join the Mountain West for the 2011-12 school year, when the WAC will be left with eight members.

Because most conferences have a July 1 or Aug. 1 deadline for moving to another league for 2011-12, any WAC offer to a school from another conference would have to come soon.

North Texas, the most likely candidate among current Football Bowl Series (formerly known as Division I-A) members, is a member of the Sun Belt Conference, which has a July 1 deadline.

UNT athletic director Rick Villareal said the school will hire a consultant to study the Mean Green’s athletic program and make recommendations about its future before considering any moves.

A UNT spokesman said it could be "a couple of months" before a study is undertaken.

UNT, which is in Denton, Texas, about 40 miles north of Dallas, has been a member of the Sun Belt since 2001. It turned down an overture from the WAC in 2004, when it was hoping for a bid from Conference USA.

UNT is in the midst of a $100 million facilities improvement, including a new 30,000 seat stadium scheduled to open in 2011.

Meanwhile, several other often-mentioned possibilities, including Montana, Texas State (San Marcos), Sacramento State, UC Davis and Portland State, are currently members of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) and subject to an NCAA moratorium on moves to FBS status until 2011. The process would require at least two years and none have so far stated an intention to change membership.

Benson said, "We still have a solid core of eight schools and are being very prudent. The WAC is not in a panic mode at all. This was one member leaving. Granted Boise State’s (football) success provided credibility to the WAC, but we continue to have a great foundation."

 

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