WAC May Be Raided By Mega-Conference

The University of Denver will join the Western Athletic Conference next season in several sports, most notably, basketball.  With Conference Comissioner Karl Benson jumping ship to head up DU's former conference, the Sunbelt, things are looking very unstable in the WAC.

Less than 24 hours have passed and rumors are swirling that the new "competitive agreement" formed by Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference could expand to include a total of 24 schools.

This agreement would require the addition of eight more schools, and probably means the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and Sun Belt Conferences are likely to be targeted (again) by this new mega-conference.

Perhaps, the time has come for the WAC to take a page from the "competitive agreement" playbook and make a preemptive strike to preserve their own conference and prevent further damage to their brand [read entire article].


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good plan.

Unless our four consecutive Directors Cup Titles (for non FBS schools), 28 National Championships, impressive basketball season, meteoric rise in Lacrosse, and abundance of fancy-schmancy new sporting venues would make us an attractive (non-football) member for this "mega conference" (non-football membership being a pretty unlikely possibility, of course).

The WAC move has been an unmitigated failure.

dggoddard said...

I would agree with you that the WAC is in a very precarious position right now.

For me, losing Hawaii right off the bat was a huge warning sign. Now the Commissioner has jumped ship and you can only wonder WTF is going on behind the scenes.

This situation could break a million different ways, and 90% of the scenarios would be bad for DU. Obviously a very complicated situation.

Fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Anonymous said...

DU had NO CHOICE in the WAC move. It was the only real move they had to make. No one else wanted the Pioneers.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, a super-double-secret invite to the West Coast Conference was on the table a little over a year ago.

Unfortunately, there were several strings attached, the largest and stickiest of which was a requirement that DU would've had to add a baseball team...and, of course, a corresponding Women's sport (likely softball or cross country).

Given the state of the economy and the resources that DU would have had to commit to a baseball team (brand new facilities (both game and practice), coaching staff, administrative staff, training staff, etc...etc...etc...) it was judged that such an undertaking just didn't make sense from a financial perspective. As such, discussions never progressed past the initial stages.

Given the disaster the WAC move is turning out to be, I wonder if DU is reconsidering that judgement...

dggoddard said...

Wow. Interesting info about the WCC.

Another rumor I heard was that several years ago under Ritchie, DU offered the WCC $1 million to join. That offer was supposedly rejected.

Anonymous said...

Adding baseball would have cost at least $7-10 million minimum to add a new facility or maybe to upgrade the DPS high school facilities accros I -25 to a D-I standard. Add in the fact that there are only 2 local opponents (AFA, UNC) and wired spring weather and .you can see where baseball is a bad fit for DU.

Brett said...

The WAC merging with the Sun Belt wouldn't be that bad, but the most ideal situation for DU would be if the WAC merged with the WCC instead. Best case scenario for DU would be to just skip joining the WAC (somehow)and move into the WCC, which I feel was the perfect fit for DU before it was announced we were joining the WAC. You guys think there's any chance joining the WCC is on the table for DU?

Anonymous said...

DU plays lacrosse.

In fact, it starts next weekend.

IMHO, if they can figure out lacrosse in this fickle weather, they can figure out baseball.

dggoddard said...

The problem with Baseball/Softball is the number of scholies, high travel costs, large number of games and zero revenue potential.

Compare that with swimming & golf which may offer no revenue but is so much cheaper on every level.

You'd have a better chance of hitting the Powerball than projecting what conference DU will be a member of in five years and what schools made up the conference.

BooneDogg said...

The WCC was against expansion for a long time when DU was looking to join, but has recently said they will explore growth in the wake of all the turmoil. They recently added BYU in all sports except football... like DU the WCC doesn't sponsor football.

Also, the conference was once adamant that all member institutions be private and have a religious affiliation, but has since stated that all schools must be private (regardless of affiliation). It seems like DU would be a great candidate along with Seattle University, which also just joined this WAC mayhem.

Perhaps the best way for DU to get an invite would be for us to win the SBC and get to the basketball tournament.

Ring_of_Fire said...

@ Brett...

I agree that the WCC is and always has been the best "athletic fit"...but geographics come into consideration when the current institutions talk about expansion. Until the WCC added BYU, none of the members had to play a game out of Pacific time zone!

Also, there's the issue of faith based education. ALL of the WCC members are faith based schools, and though DU was founded by the Methodists, it no longer follows a faith based education curriculum. When it comes to the big decision makers (provosts, presidents, and chancellors), this issue, possibly more than anything else, could have the WCC shying away from an association with DU.

Finally, don't forget that, since it was driven primarily by football, the shifting major conference landscape hasn't really affected the WCC that much. Since its member institutions don't play football, the WCC isn't jockeying for position like the rest of the conferences...i.e., they don't HAVE to worry about maintaining their relevance. As such, any expansion would be done carefully and with a great deal of consideration. In the end, they're never going to panic and pick up DU, just because they need another member.

Really, never say never (and the earlier post about the baseball thing has me going "hmmmm..."), but I'd say that it's very, very doubtful that DU would be invited to join the WCC any time soon.

Anonymous said...

This would never happen, but my dream would see DU in a conference of "ilke-minded" private schools such as Creighton, SMU, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, TCU, DePaul, Marquette, Bradley, Butler, etc.