Contacts between the University of Hawaii and two non-football-playing leagues, the West Coast Conference and Big West Conference, about possible membership have gained frequency in the past few days, people familiar with the situations said.
The exploratory conversations come in the wake of the Western Athletic Conference defections of Fresno State and Nevada to the Mountain West Conference plus the possibility of WAC member Utah State also ending up there.
Asked if he has spoken to Big West and West Coast Conference officials since the Aug. 18 announcements by Fresno State and Nevada, UH athletic director Jim Donovan said, "No comment."
Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell said, "At this point, I’d rather not comment on any contact (with UH)." West Coast Conference officials did not return phone calls or e-mails.
But in June, Farrell told the Star-Advertiser, "Hawaii certainly does have a great history with the Big West with their women’s programs and we have a great affinity for their program and people over the years."
The Rainbow Wahine were members of the Big West and its forerunner, the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, from 1985 to ’95 with Farrell as commissioner. The Rainbow Wahine joined the WAC in 1996.
Donovan said, "We’re exploring all of our options and that includes whether we might, possibly, go to another conference, go independent in everything but football or go independent with most of our sports."
Should UH go independent in football, it would likely put its other 18 teams in another conference, with the Big West the most likely home.
The nine-school Big West, which is composed of California schools, has a moratorium on expansion until year’s end. The eight-member West Coast Conference, stretching from San Diego to Spokane, Wash., is made up of small, Christian institutions.
WEST COAST CONFERENCE
|Loyola Marymount||Los Angeles||8,300|
|Saint Mary’s||Moraga, Calif.||4,768|
|San Diego||San Diego||7,548|
|San Francisco||San Francisco||8,000|
|Santa Clara||Santa Clara, Calif.||8,377|
Men (6): Baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis.
Women (7): Basketball, cross country, golf, rowing, soccer, tennis, volleyball.
BIG WEST CONFERENCE
|Cal Poly||San Luis Obispo, Calif.||19,325|
|Cal State Fullerton||Fullerton, Calif.||36,000|
|Cal State Northridge||Northridge, Calif.||34,500|
|Long Beach State||Long Beach, Calif.||35,559|
|UC Davis||Davis, Calif.||31,426|
|UC Irvine||Irvine, Calif.||27,000|
|UC Riverside||Riverside, Calif.||18,083|
|UC Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara, Calif.||20,847|
Men (7): Baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field.
Women (9): Basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo.