WAC to expand, Montana says no thanks

WAC to expand, Montana says no thanks
The Western Athletic Conference announced the addition of the University of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State University, along with the University of Denver as a non-football member Thursday.

The three schools will compete in the WAC beginning July 1, 2012.

"The addition of these three schools clearly sends a message that the WAC and its member schools are prepared to move forward to build a 'new' WAC," conference commmissoner Karl Benson said in a release. "As the WAC prepares to begin its next 50 years as an athletic conference, I am confident that these three new members along with the six other WAC schools will continue to compete at the highest level of the NCAA."

The University of Montana announced in a press release Thursday morning that it will remain a member of the Big Sky Conference and not move up to the football bowl subdivision.

Montana President Royce Engstrom called it "a complex decision," but said it was a better course for the school to stay with the conference it helped establish in 1963.

Benson added that the WAC will continue to explore the possibility of adding additional members to the league.

That doesn't mean that will will not continue to evaluate all possible options," Benson said on his conference call Thursday. "Ideally we would be a ten-team league. We still have options, we still have time."

Reports from Seattle media had previously confirmed through WAC sources that Seattle University was next on the WAC list to be invited if Montana should decline its invitation.

The WAC needs to replace Boise State, which is moving to the Mountain West Conference after this school year, and Fresno State and Nevada, which will join the MWC in 2012.

The additions of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State will give the WAC eight football members in 2012.

UTSA is starting a football program that will begin play in 2011. Former Miami coach Larry Coker is the Roadrunners' coach. Benson said Thursday it's unknown whether UTSA would begin play in WAC football in the 2012 or 2013 season.

Texas State plays in the Southland Conference in the Championship Subdivision of Division I, but has been exploring the possibility of moving up to FBS. The Bobcats are 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the Southland Conference this season.

Denver competes in the Sun Belt in most sports and does not have a football team.

The other remaining members of the WAC are San Jose State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech and Utah State.

Hawaii has reportedly been considering becoming an independent in football.