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League negotiating exits

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The Western Athletic Conference and two of its renegade members, Fresno State and Nevada, have begun behind-the-scenes mediation over issues raised by their impending departures, the Star-Advertiser has learned.

According to people familiar with the talks but not authorized to speak for the parties, the sessions center on when the schools may leave and how much they will pay to do so.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he would not "confirm or deny" the talks.

However, Colorado law requires mediation in such lawsuits.

UH plays Nevada on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

The six remaining members of the nine-team WAC — Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State — filed suit last month against Fresno State and Nevada to prevent their departure from the conference before June 30, 2012.

In August, Fresno State and Nevada announced their intention to join the Mountain West and say they want to leave June 30, 2011, a year earlier than the WAC bylaws permit.

In addition, they maintain they are not liable for the $5 million buyout that was part of a conference solidarity pact.

WAC policy requires schools to declare their intention to leave by July 1 of the year previous to their withdrawal. But Fresno State and Nevada announced their departures on Aug. 18 and have subsequently said they would not compete in the WAC in 2011-12.

Benson has said an early withdrawal by the two would place a scheduling hardship on the remaining schools, leaving them scant time in which to fill the pukas on their schedule.

Boise State is not involved in the mediation. The Broncos announced their departure for the MWC June and will leave the WAC June 30, 2011.

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