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UH accepts Mountain West, Big West invites

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The University of Hawaii is joining the Mountain West Conference for football and the Big West for other sports.

UH president M.R.C. Greenwood announced acceptance of invitations from the conferences at a news conference today.

"Happy Holiday, Warrior fans," Greenwood said as UH Board of Regents Chairman Howard Karr pulled a gift wrap off a Mountain West logo, as he had minutes earlier from a Big West logo.

The Mountain West and Big West both held meetings this week to discuss expansion and invited Hawaii.

"We look forward to adding the Warriors to our Mountain West family," MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement relayed by Greenwood. Thompson was still at MWC meetings in Las Vegas. Greenwood said Thompson called her this morning with the invitation.

Both conferences voted unanimously to invite UH, Greenwood said.

UH announced last month that the Mountain West presidents voted to begin negotiations with Hawaii for entry to the MWC.

Major negotiation points included travel subsidies and distribution of TV revenue.

"There will be some cost sharing (for opponents’ air travel)," UH athletic director Jim Donovan said. "The TV situation is still going to be worked out, in the next six months."

UH officials declined to provide figures, but San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Hawaii would pay $150,000 to $175,000 to football teams playing here.

Hawaii applied for admission to the Big West for its sports other than football when the conference lifted its moratorium on expansion last month.

"Today we’re back to the future," said Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell, who attended the Bachman Hall news conference. "I couldn’t be more delighted."

Farrell was referencing when UH’s women’s teams played in the Big West for 12 years in the 1980s and 1990s.

UH will leave the Western Athletic Conference after the 2011-2012 school year. It has been a member of the WAC since 1979.

Three other WAC members are leaving for the MWC in all sports: Boise State in 2011 and Fresno State and Nevada in 2012.

The other remaining MWC members are Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming. BYU is leaving to be an independent, TCU is going to the Big East and Utah to the Pac-12.

The current Big West members are Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific.

"This is a historic and great day for the University of Hawaii," Donovan said. "It’s very positive for all our sports teams."

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