WAC changes leave Tech in question

December 15, 2010

by Sarah Brown, Sports Editor

With much controversy in the Western Athletic Conference concerning who is staying and who is leaving, Tech’s Athletic-Director Bruce Van De Velde released a quarterly letter concerning where the Bulldogs stand.

Division I college football has had several changes throughout a plethora of conferences. Texas Christian University will leave the Mountain West Conference and will join the Big East Conference. Utah and Brigham Young are leaving the Mountain West Conference as well. Utah will join the PAC-10, while BYU remains an independent.

To add more to the conference changes, Boise State and Fresno State will leave the WAC and join the Mountain West Conference in 2011. Nevada and Hawaii will become part of the Mountain West Conference in 2012.

Although it seems that the WAC is falling apart, it has invited Texas State, UT-San Antonio and the University of Denver (non-football) to become part of the conference in 2012. This will result in seven football teams and eight universities for other sports.

The Mountain West will officially have 10 schools, and they have the decision to remain at 10 or gain two more. The schools believed to be part of their options are Utah State (currently in the WAC), University of Texas-El Paso, Houston and Southern Methodist University (currently in CUSA). CUSA presidents will meet in February to decide what will happen with their conference.

This places Tech in a tough situation. Van De Velde has confirmed that Tech has discussed joining the Conference USA the past two years.

“We have sent them updated copies of our strategic plan for intercollegiate athletics, and I have been speaking to the CUSA office on a regular basis,” Van De Velde said in his letter. “This past summer, President Reneau, Steve Davison and I have traveled to Dallas to meet with Conference USA officials. During our meeting, we outlined the recent progress we have made in our athletic programs, including our commitment to advancing and completing the Quest for Excellence facility project.”

As of right now, Tech will remain in the WAC, but if C-USA is a better fit for the Bulldogs, it appears there will be another conference change. Van De Velde assured fans that what happens is beyond their control, but he wishes success upon whatever occurs.

“We have also developed a presentation highlighting our achievements and sent it to all of the Conference USA presidents and athletic directors,” Van De Velde said. “We have developed printed materials to market our programs [and] our geographic proximity to CUSA members, our traditions [and] academic and athletic excellence.”

From a Tech standpoint, joining the CUSA would bring in more fans from other schools due to cheaper means of travel.

In return, Tech fans could travel to schools in that conference such as Southern?Miss and Southern Methodist – both which can be reached within four hours.

More will follow as Tech ultimately decides to stay in the WAC or join C-USA.

E-mail comments to sdb035@latech.edu.