The WAC membership committee met with five potential new members in Dallas, and commissioner Karl Benson said invitations could be handed out in the next 30 to 60 days.
Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, Seattle University, Montana and the University of Denver are all candidates to join the WAC, which is losing Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to the Mountain West. Only UTSA, Texas State and Montana have football programs, and none of them play on the major college level.
Both UTSA and Texas State have plans to move up to FBS. Montana is still deciding whether it is going to make the jump up and has conducted feasibility studies on the subject. There also is administrative change there as well, with a new president set to take charge. Seattle and Denver would be candidates to join as non-football playing members.
“Our first goal and our highest priority is to ensure that we have a minimum of eight football-playing schools for the 2012 season,” Benson said Wednesday on a conference call.
The membership committee, consisting of the athletic directors of the six remaining WAC schools, heard presentations from everyone but Montana on Tuesday. Because Montana has yet to make a decision about its future, the school had a different dialogue with the committee. Benson said it was important to include Montana in the discussion because it is a good fit for the league.
He also added these were the five schools the WAC was focused in on for right now, but also said he did not want to back the league into a corner should there be further expansion moves with other conferences.
“We want to make sure we leave some opportunities in case there are other moves,” Benson said. “We are going to continue to track what’s going on around us. At the same time, we believe it’s necessary to allow our coaches to go out into the recruiting world and be able to inform student-athletes that this is what the WAC is going to look like in 2012.
“There is negative recruiting going on right now in many sports and our coaches are being disadvantaged when other coaches in other conferences are suggesting maybe the WAC isn’t going to be around in 2012. It’s very important we send a strong message sooner than later that the WAC is going to continue operating.”
The goal is to have the new members in place for the 2012-13 school year. Boise State is leaving after this season, but there is a legal fight looming with Fresno State and Nevada. Both schools also want to leave after this season, but the WAC wants them to stay through 2011-12.