WAC trims tourney sizes to cut costs


POSTED: Thursday, June 18, 2009

For teams at the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference standings, the chances of making a Cinderella run through the league tournament have gone from slim to none.

The WAC will trim the fields for most of its team championships next season in an effort to reduce costs, the league announced yesterday.

The cuts were approved by the WAC Board of Directors at its annual meeting this month. The volleyball, men's and women's tennis and softball tournaments will be reduced to six teams. The men's and women's basketball tournaments will drop from nine to eight teams.

The baseball and soccer tournaments will remain at six teams.

The volleyball and women's tennis tournaments will see the biggest reductions, losing three teams from their fields. Men's tennis and softball included seven teams last season.

The cut to the basketball tournaments eliminates the play-in game between the bottom two teams in the regular-season standings.

Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan said WAC tournament travel costs are factored into each team's budget. There is the potential for an increased disbursement from the WAC if the measures produce a greater profit for the league.

“;The one thing that's a factor is it makes the regular season a lot more important because not everyone gets into the tournament,”; Donovan said.

The WAC also announced that its operating budget will be reduced by more than 5 percent. The league will freeze officiating fees, several media guides will be published online rather than printed and the location of conference meetings will be moved.

“;The conference office staff recognizes the severe financial challenges on all of our campuses and will continue to be committed to looking for ways to contain and decrease costs while maintaining the level of service to the membership which we believe is critical to being a viable Division I conference,”; WAC commissioner Karl Benson said in a release.