Eight Schools Announce Intentions to Leave the Western Athletic Conference

In a joint statement released today, Colorado State University joined seven other member schools in announcing that before Sept. 1, 1998 the schools will file their intentions to leave the Western Athletic Conference. Their withdrawal will be effective on June 30, 1999.

The eight schools will form a new athletic conference composed of present members of the WAC and seek to have the new conference recognized immediately and admitted to membership in the NCAA. A name for the new conference has not yet been determined, nor have any formal organizational steps been taken. The group intends to limit the conference to eight or nine members for at least five years.

The heads of the eight schools, the Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, Colorado State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, University of Utah and the University of Wyoming, considered several options before ultimately determining to withdraw. The university leaders made their decision after concluding that the present 16-team conference has been unable to achieve its intended goals, and that the challenges faced by the conference are insurmountable. Despite extensive, ongoing meetings and discussions, the WAC Management Council has not been able to find answers to difficult problems that are acceptable to all of its members.

Principal problems cited by the eight schools are a lack of any natural affinity among the 16 member teams, a breakdown of traditional rivalries, the huge geographic spread and its attendant travel expenses, a feared erosion of fan support, the inability of the present conference to achieve greater national recognition and TV revenues, and, finally, a serious decline in per-member revenues and a major increase in expenses that affects all schools.

The leaders of the eight school acknowledged that the decision to depart the WAC was reached reluctantly and only after a long and earnest effort to find answers within the framework of the present 16-member conference. They also expressed their commitment to fulfilling schedules and meeting other obligations to remaining members of the Western Athletic Conference.