Karl Benson says WAC will survive

November, 22, 2010
Embattled WAC commissioner Karl Benson reiterated Monday his league will survive even if it loses Hawaii to the Mountain West.

In fact, Benson said the whole purpose of his conference call was to dispel any notion that his flailing league would implode with the loss of its four best teams.

"The WAC is prepared to move forward and do whatever it takes to continue our operation," Benson said.

To that end, here are a few snippets of what he had to say:

-- Benson met with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson last Monday in Dallas, where the two were attending BCS meetings. It was then that Thompson told him of their interest in adding Hawaii as a football-only member.

-- Last Thursday, Benson held a conference call with the five remaining WAC members, who agreed to accept the Warriors as a football-only member so they can stay in the WAC. Benson extended this offer Thursday night -- the same night Hawaii announced it had a handshake agreement to join the Mountain West in football only.

-- Benson is scheduled to meet with Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan tomorrow in Las Vegas. "I will reiterate the WAC's desire for Hawaii to remain in the WAC," Benson said.

-- Benson also says he has reached out to North Texas to see if the school has had interest in joining the WAC. The league has reached out several times previously to the school, and is hoping the addition of Texas State and Texas-San Antonio will make a difference this time. He also reached out to Cal-Davis to see if it would reconsider its move to the Big Sky to join the WAC instead, but the school was not interested.

-- Should TCU join the Big East as a football-only member, the league would welcome TCU's other sports.

-- If Hawaii leaves, it would most likely take its tie-in with the Hawaii Bowl to the Mountain West. As for the other bowl partners, Benson said the league already has had preliminary discussions with bowl partners about 2012 and beyond. The New Mexico Bowl has already dropped the WAC in favor of the Pac-10. He added the Humanitarian Bowl will continue its affiliation through 2013 and 2014. As for the Poinsettia and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowls: "It won’t be the same type of guarantee that we were under for 2010 and '11, but I anticipate we will remain a partner in some form."

Benson also said the WAC is not in danger of losing its BCS status, and he is very confident that proposed NCAA legislation doing away with the continuity of membership requirement will pass in January. If it does pass, that means the WAC would continue to receive its automatic bid to NCAA tournament events.

If the WAC remains at seven football playing members in July 2012, it would lose its status as an FBS conference. But Benson said the only negative there is losing seats on NCAA governance councils. "It’s business as usual for the member institutions. It’s just that we become unclassified," he said.



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