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WAC Chief Has Expansion Plans

October 12, 1999

DENVER (AP) _ The Western Athletic Conference is continuing with plans for its own expansion, commissioner Karl Benson said Monday after TCU announced it would leave the league for Conference USA.

``I think there will be continued discussion and analysis of the WAC as a nine-team league, 10-team league or a 12-team league,″ Benson said in a telephone conference call. ``Today’s action by Conference USA may cause our membership to pause and evaluate the urgency.

``I would contend that if we look to the future, we need to give serious consideration to shoring up our numbers, and trying to satisfy some of the geographic gap we have between California and Texas. It probably would behoove us to look at additional membership,″ Benson said.

Conference USA presidents earlier Monday unanimously approved the addition of TCU to the league in all sports, but passed on another WAC team from the Dallas-Fort Worth market, Southern Methodist.

``I had prepared myself for both SMU and TCU to get invitations and accept those invitations,″ Benson said. ``(Now) we can look at Dallas as the WAC market. That’s a huge plus for the WAC as we continue to try to place ourselves in attractive positions.″

TCU, a former Southwest Conference member now in the Western Athletic Conference, will join C-USA in 2001.

The WAC was a 16-school league until eight members _ BYU, Utah, New Mexico, Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State _ defected to form the Mountain West Conference. That conference is in its first year of operation.

Remaining in the WAC were Rice, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Jose State, UTEP, TCU, Tulsa and SMU. The league will have at least eight schools, because Nevada is scheduled to join next season.

Among the schools believed to be expressing interest are Boise State, Idaho, Utah State, Arkansas State, North Texas, New Mexico State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe.

``I talked with several of the WAC presidents today,″ Benson said. ``There is a meeting scheduled for Sunday here in Denver, in anticipation that the WAC would need to make some membership decisions. That meeting will still be conducted and the WAC will look at the options.

``It would behoove us to continue to explore the various models, whether that be a nine-team model, 10-team model or a 12-team model,″ he said.

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