The University of Hawaii is close to ending the longest athletic conference affiliation in its history and leaving the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West Conference, officials said.
UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said the school has been asked to "enter discussions for the Warrior Football team to join the Mountain West Conference."
UH said the request came in a telephone call earlier in the day from MWC Commission Craig Thompson. "The commissioner asked (UH) to begin discussions with the aim of the football team entering the conference as soon as possible," Greenwood said.
The UH men’s athletic programs joined the WAC in 1979 and, at 32 years, is its longest current member.
A statement by the MWC said, "The Mountain West Conference Board of Directors has authorized Commissioner Craig Thompson to begin discussions with the University of Hawaii regarding possible membership in the sport of football only."
UH’s other sports are expected to join the Big West Conference, where the Rainbow Wahine competed until joining the WAC in 1996.
The announcement followed Greenwood’s return from Maui, where the UH Board of Regents met and was informed of the situation.
Prior to the press conference, WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he had not been advised by UH of an impending change in membership.
MWC admission, once final details are worked out, could come as soon as the 2012-13 season. UH is expected to be required to pay a travel subsidy for teams visiting Hawaii.
The MWC is largely composed of schools that left the WAC after the 1998 season.
Greg McMackin, Hawaii football coach:
"Our players and coaches are very excited."
Dave Shoji, Hawaii women’s volleyball coach:
"I think it’s a positive for all our other teams, not just volleyball. I think most of our coaches would agree with that. It’s closer, we all recruit in California. It will help recruiting.
It will renew some old rivalries and I’m sure our fans would be happy to see those (Big West) teams again."
Gib Arnold, Hawaii men’s basketball coach:
"I’m excited for the football team. We will wait and and see what the next move is for the other sports."
Mountain West members
Brigham Young, leaving next season
San Diego State
Utah, leaving next season
Joining next season: Boise State
Joining in two seasons: Nevada, Fresno State, Hawaii
Big West members
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Northridge
Long Beach State
UC Santa Barbara