[ WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ]
DALLAS >> Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson said yesterday his league is in "a tug of war" with Conference USA to keep Rice, Southern Methodist and Tulsa as members.
Reports on Wednesday said the three schools might be offered membership in C-USA by the end of this week. But Benson said those reports were inaccurate, and while it is very possible that one, two or all three schools (along with possibly Marshall and Central Florida) will be invited to join C-USA, it probably would not be until Nov. 4.
In the meantime, Benson said he will continue meeting with the schools' athletic directors to try to keep them in the WAC.
"There will be continued dialogue over the next couple of weeks," Benson said at today's WAC basketball media preview. "We both want the same result, a central time zone division. My plan is not a whole lot different as an end result."
Benson wants to increase WAC membership from 10 to 12 schools and divide the conference into Pacific and Central divisions, easing travel expenses. He said he has plans to add schools whether the WAC loses schools to other leagues or not.
"It's been reported that I've had conversations with TCU, Houston and Tulane," Benson said, implying that the reports are accurate.
The probability of large-scale conference realignment was spurred by Miami, Syracuse and Boston College accepting invitations to join the Atlantic Coast Conference and leave the Big East.
The WAC is affected by the possibility of schools leaving Conference USA for the Big East.
"The Big East is expected to finalize and make an announcement on Nov. 4," Benson said.
He also said he believes the Mountain West Conference is "accelerating their membership analysis."
While the eight-school MWC has lifted its moratorium on expansion, the league's official stance is that it has not decided to invite any new members. In addition to Hawaii, speculation has abounded that Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and/or Texas Christian might be invited to join the Mountain West -- a league of teams that left the WAC.
UH athletic director Herman Frazier was unavailable for comment.
Any changes in conference realignment would go into effect next school year at the earliest.