The Western Athletic Conference will begin the process of trying to replace the University of Hawaii next week and indications are it may look at one or more Texas schools to fill the considerable puka.
UH, the conference’s senior current member, announced Dec. 10 it will leave the WAC in 2012 after 33 years, moving the Warriors football team to the Mountain West Conference and placing most of its other sports in the Big West.
The WAC Board of Directors is scheduled to meet Jan. 14 and it might be appropriate that San Antonio will be the site of the talks. For not only is the annual NCAA convention there, but a significant part of the agenda will involve expansion and likely center on additional Texas schools.
Commissioner Karl Benson said the meeting "will be part of a continued evaluation and review of potential future members."
UH is not expected to take part in the talks.
In November the WAC announced the addition of full members Texas State in San Marcos and UT-San Antonio and nonfootball member Denver for 2012, to replace Fresno State and Nevada, who are also moving to the MWC. But the subsequent departure by UH has the WAC looking for one or more prospective members.
"We fully expect that, whatever the WAC is going to look like on July 1, 2012, those decisions will be made by July 1, 2011," Benson said.
For 2012, the WAC football lineup currently includes Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Texas State, UTSA and Utah State. And speculation has the WAC looking at multiple schools from the Football Championship Subdivision, including Lamar. It might also revisit Seattle University as a nonfootball member.
Benson declined to discuss prospective candidates, but said Texas is in the WAC’s "footprint" and "we’re not going to rule out anyone in our footprint."
Lamar, located in Beaumont, Texas, restored football for the 2010 season after a 20-year absence. The Cardinals competed in the Southland Conference, along with Texas State. UH is scheduled to play Lamar Sept. 15, 2012.
Hawaii’s departure will leave the WAC with just five "continuous" members in 2012 and could put its NCAA men’s basketball standing at risk. However, legislation to abolish the so-called six-year "continuity of membership" clause is up for a vote at the NCAA convention and the WAC has been pushing for its passage.