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NCAA Football: Is the WAC a Dying Conference?

When Boise State bolted from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), it started a domino effect that now appears to have taken the focus of college football from the football field to the court room.

In a desperate effort to lure non-football athletic programs from Mountain West Conference (MWC) independent runaway, BYU, and keep them from affiliation with other conferences, the WAC drafted an arcane resolution to prevent anyone else from leaving so they could try to negotiate with BYU.

After signing a resolution on August 13th along with the other remaining WAC schools stating they would not leave the WAC, Fresno State and the University of Nevada fled the conference just five days later seemingly ignoring the resolution before the ink was dry as if it never happened or didn't exist. This blindside is now leading many to speculate that it was never a binding document to begin with. Or was it?

This resolution will now be put to the test as WAC commissioner Karl Benson tried to enforce the resolution by announcing yesterday that Fresno State and the University of Nevada must pay $5 million each for failing to abide to the corporate resolution they both agreed to earlier this month that called for both to remain members of the WAC through June 30, 2016.

According to reports, both schools were notified on August 27 with a "demand for payment" letter and have 60 days from that date to make payment. The August 27 notification also served as a reminder for both schools that the resolution calls for the two schools to compete in the WAC during the 2010-11 season and the 2011-12 season as neither school announced their decision to withdraw from the WAC prior to the June 30 deadline as required by WAC Bylaws.

"The WAC fully expects to receive the $5 million from both Fresno State and Nevada and will take legal recourse if necessary to obtain the money," said Benson. "As for the termination date, WAC Bylaws make it very clear that Fresno State and Nevada must remain in the WAC through the 2011-12 season unless the WAC authorizes an 'early out.' Fresno State and Nevada leaving the WAC following the 2010-11 season would cause irreparable financial harm to the remaining WAC members in terms of football scheduling and potential loss of revenue from television and bowl games. The damages that Hawai'i, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State would incur could exceed as much as $2 million per school."

Here's the text of the resolution passed by WAC members on Aug. 13, as obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Corporate Resolution

Whereas, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) is a corporate entity formed for the purposes of establishing and organizing athletic competitions among its members which include the following universities: Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State, and Utah State; and,

Whereas, Boise State has given notice of its withdrawal from the conference in accordance with Article II, Section 7 of the bylaws and consequently has forfeited its right to be present at meetings of the Board of Directors when matters relating to prospective new member institutions, or to institutions that have accepted invitations to join the conference, are being discussed pursuant to Article III, Section 5; and,

Whereas, the members of the WAC wish to enter into an agreement with Brigham Young University (BYU); and,

Whereas, BYU and the WAC have been pursuing negotiations for the specific terms and conditions under which BYU will enter into a contract with the WAC; and,

Whereas, in order for BYU to proceed with termination of its current affiliation with the Mountain West Conference it needs certain minimum assurances from the WAC; and,

Whereas, the WAC wishes to take steps to make such minimum assurances to BYU so that a contract with BYU may be completed:

It is therefore resolved as follows:

1. The current bylaws and rules and regulations of the WAC shall remain in full force and effect. To the extent this resolution is in conflict with the current bylaws and/or rules and regulations, this resolution will prevail.

2. The members of the WAC who have attended this telephonic conference conducted at 11 a.m. mountain standard time August 13, 2010 hereby waive notice of the meeting and acknowledge that the actions taken at this meeting are fully binding and effective on all members of the WAC.

3. The terms of this resolution shall become effective immediately. It is understood that the agreement regarding athletic seasons contemplated with BYU will extend through the time frame July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2016 or as extended, or if terminated in accordance with paragraphs 4 and 5 herein.

4. The WAC and its members and BYU, agree that all current members of the WAC (except Louisiana Tech and Boise State, which has already given notice of its withdrawal) will not join any other conference or athletic conference from the date of adoption of this resolution through June 30, 2016, contingent upon BYU agreeing that it will not join any other conference or athletic conference from the date of entering a contract with the WAC through June 30, 2016.

5. Any WAC member (except Louisiana Tech or Boise State) or BYU shall pay a penalty of $5 million in the event it violates the terms of paragraph 4 herein unless the conference that is joined has current (as of the time joined) automatic access for its league champion into the bowl championship series (BCS). Said payment will be made within 60 days from demand from the WAC.

6. In the event that any current WAC member, (except Louisiana Tech or Boise State), or BYU leaves the WAC in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 herein, the terms of this resolution are terminated.

7. To the extent that adoption of this resolution constitutes an amendment of the bylaws, this board approves such amendment(s) and the required vote of 3/4 has been met in order to make this resolution and any such amendments enforceable.

8. Karl Benson, the Commissioner and President of the WAC, is hereby authorized to proceed with continued negotiations regarding the specific terms of the contract with BYU for consideration by this Board.

9. In the event that no written agreement is executed by BYU on or before September 1, 2010, which agreement will include the obligations contained in paragraphs 3-6 of this Resolution and any additional provisions agreed to by this Board, then this Resolution is terminated.

10. A roll call has been conducted and__________ out of eight authorized voters have approved this resolution and therefore:

This resolution is adopted this 13th day of August 2010.

This entire BCS thing has created one big fiasco causing academic institutions to act more like businesses every day. Institutions do not want to give up the BCS system because of the money it provides the schools, however, with the President and our politicians starting to weigh in more with each passing day, it seems like only a matter of time before a playoff system gets forced upon them. With the BCS having answers for virtually everything however, these wealthy schools will not go down without a fight and this entire ordeal may ultimately end up in being decided by our nation's highest court. - Mike Cardano

Mike is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball and Xtra Point Football.

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