The University of Hawaii football team will swap one Sun Belt Conference opponent for another to close its 2012 regular season at Aloha Stadium.
Western Kentucky, which was contracted to play the Warriors Dec. 1, 2012, will be replaced by South Alabama, the schools announced yesterday.
UH said WKU agreed to play UH in a future game, possibly 2018, and help secure a replacement for 2012 in exchange for moving the game. Under the terms of its contract, WKU would have been obligated to pay UH $500,000 had it pulled out without finding a replacement.
"There were a few reasons, the most pressing being not wanting to make the trip to Honolulu so close to the week of final exams," said Chris Glowacki, WKU spokesman.
2012 UH FOES
"Also, should we qualify for a bowl in 2012, we could be looking at a trip to Hawaii, final exams and a bowl game all within the span of about two weeks, since the New Orleans Bowl is played in mid-December."
WKU, which has changed athletic administration since negotiating the contract 18 months ago, has gone 0-12 and 2-10 in its first two seasons as a Football Bowl Subdivision member.
South Alabama was an unclassified NCAA member in 2010 and will be a Football Championship Subdivision member in 2011 and transition to FBS in 2012.
South Alabama agreed to start a football team and marching band after a 2007 student petition drive garnered support for a $300 increase in the annual student activity fee.
"We’re not bowl eligible (in 2012), so for us it’s like a bowl that’s been built into the schedule," South Alabama athletic director Joel Erdmann said on the school’s website. "We are tremendously excited about this game, as it will be the last in our journey to full NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and Sun Belt Conference membership," Erdmann said. "We are fortunate that the trip will be financed by (UH). … We encourage our fans to clear their calendars and join us for this memorable trip."
UH said South Alabama is to receive the same travel package as WKU: $125,000, airfare for a 100-member travel party, 60 hotel rooms, use of two buses and a truck.
The 2012 season will mark UH’s Mountain West Conference debut. Other nonconference opponents are USC, Brigham Young and Lamar.