Utah Valley and Cal-State Bakersfield have accepted invitations to the Western Athletic Conference, the WAC announced this morning. The addition of the two schools is with the intention of preserving the WAC as a non-football playing conference, as the two schools do not sponsor football.
The two schools move the conference to six teams for non-football sports, joining Seattle, Denver, Idaho and New Mexico State (NMSU and Idaho have plans of taking football independent). Thanks to a two-year grace period, the WAC will still hold on to its automatic bid to NCAA Championship tournaments despite being below the required minimum of seven schools.
Despite conversations with the Big Sky, the University of Idaho will still most likely be one of those schools playing WAC olympic sports for the 2013-14 calendar. As of today Idaho has not withdrawn from the WAC, nor has the school stated intentions to withdraw from the WAC.
“Relative to Idaho, we do not have assurances that Idaho will be part of the WAC long term,” Interim WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd said during a conference call with reporters this morning. “I have to work under the assumption that Idaho is a WAC member and, until we are told differently.”
Instead, it’s likely Idaho will staying in the WAC in 2013-14 because of the money it would receive courtesy of the departing WAC members forfeiting conference revenue.
WAC bylaws state that schools that declare intentions to leave the following year forfeit conference revenue for the final year in the conference. In the case of 2012-13, Utah State, La. Tech, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, Texas-Arlington and San Jose State will all be leaving the conference on July 1, 2013. Hurd said a majority of the money will go to the football playing schools remaining in the conference – Idaho and New Mexico State. Seattle and Denver will also receive a share, but a minority one due to not participating in football.
This is money that Idaho wouldn’t receive if it chooses to leave for the Big Sky for the 2013-14 season, Hurd said.
We’ll have more as it becomes available.