Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, October 18, 1999

W E S T E R N _ A T H L E T I C _ C O N F E R E N C E


WAC adds Boise St., La. Tech

By Paul Arnett


The Western Athletic Conference board of directors extended invitations to Boise State and Louisiana Tech, league chief executive officer Ken Mortimer announced today.

Boise State is currently a member of the Big West Conference, and Louisiana Tech is an independent in football and a member of the Sun Belt Conference in the remaining sports.

They will not only help replace the departure of Texas Christian to Conference USA in July of 2001, Mortimer hopes going to a 10-team league will add stability in case any of the other current members decide to go elsewhere.

Boise State is the second Big West school to come into the league this year. Nevada was extended an invitation over the summer and will join the WAC in June of 2000.

"We believe Boise State and Louisiana Tech are important to the long-term stability and growth of the WAC," Mortimer said today. "We are filling the needs for the WAC by adding these schools.

"We felt the model of 10 best serves that. It also serves well for geographic rivalries. Both Boise State and Louisiana Tech compare favorably to our teams."

Boise State and Louisiana Tech are particularly attractive additions because of their ties to the Humanitarian and Independence bowls.

This year, the WAC champion will likely play in the Las Vegas Bowl with the league's second team going to the Mobile (Ala.)Bowl. Should Hawaii factor in the postseason equation and play in the Christmas Day doubleheader, the league will have three bowl representatives.

But next season, the WAC has no official ties to any of those bowls, leaving the league in limbo. The Silicon Bowl in San Jose, Calif., will likely invite a WAC team, as could the Humanitarian or Independence bowls.

"I think Boise State is an up-and-coming program and would be a good addition to the WAC," UH head coach June Jones said. "Having a bowl game there makes it even better."

Boise State has an enrollemnt of 16,000 students. Louisiana Tech has about 10,000 students and is located in Rustin, La. Both schools will pay a membership fee of $500,000, which will be distributed to the current WAC teams.

In 2001, the 10 WAC teams will be Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Rice, Southern Methodist, San Jose State, Texas-El Paso, Tulsa, Louisiana Tech and Nevada.

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