WAC files lawsuit to keep Fresno State and Nevada in league through 2011
Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson confirmed Tuesday that his league is seeking legal action to prevent Fresno State and Nevada from joining the Mountain West next year.
Fresno State and Nevada announced in August they were leaving the WAC to join the Mountain West. The schools, however, made their decision after the July 1 notification deadline, which Benson says compels the schools to remain in the league through the 2011-12 season.
Boise State, playing its last season in the WAC, is allowed to join the Mountain West next season because the school gave notice before July 1.
Fresno State and Nevada have expressed desires to leave after this season, but that would leave the WAC with only six members. Benson said this could cause havoc with football scheduling and does not allow enough time for the WAC to add new members.
"We've declared that the football schedule for 2011 would be drastically challenging for the six remaining members," Benson said. "We also have contracts with bowl partners that would be damaged. We have a contract partnership with ESPN."
Benson says Fresno State and Nevada have 30 days to respond to the suit. Benson said he expected a court decision before the end of this football season.
"I am disappointed," Nevada President Milton Glick said in a statement published in the Reno Gazette-Journal. "It is unfortunate that this matter has moved to litigation before any discussions between the parties were undertaken. We have been very public about our desire to resolve these matters directly with the Western Athletic Conference and to do so as expeditiously as possible. At this point, our university legal counsel is in contact with the WAC's attorney."