Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, September 9, 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

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WAC resigned to
departure of TCU, SMU

Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Western Athletic Conference officials hold a coaches' conference call once a week, a chance for football coaches to talk about games and plays and players. Only this week, with reports circulating that TCU and SMU will jump to Conference USA, coaches spent time talking about conference splits instead of split ends.

"I have read the rumors, but I don't know what is and what isn't accurate," Hawaii coach June Jones said when asked about the possible departure of TCU and SMU. "Something better will come along for Hawaii if they do or if they don't."

WAC commissioner Karl Benson has been talking to his six for-sure schools -- Rice, Texas-El Paso, Tulsa, Hawaii, San Jose State and Fresno State -- and the consensus seems to be to let TCU and SMU go. That's not to say a backup plan hasn't been considered, with North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Boise State and Idaho among the programs being tossed around as possible WAC additions.

If TCU and SMU bolt for C-USA, look for Mountain West Conference officials to take a good look at WAC member Fresno State. The Mountain West's membership began Benson's nightmare in May 1998 by breaking away from the 16-team WAC. Folks in the eight-team Mountain West stated a desire to expand last spring. The only reason they haven't called Fresno State yet? Conference officials are waiting for rogue men's basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian to leave.

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