by Jerry Palm
New NCAA legislation that passed this week will ensure that the WAC will retain its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in basketball. It was in danger of being stripped after the many defections from the WAC to the Mountain West because of a lack of "continuity of membership." The new rules that were passed this week relax those restrictions. A conference must now have at least seven active members that sponsor men's basketball, as well as six that sponsor at least five other men's sports.
The WAC loses Boise State to the Mountain West after this season, and Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii will depart after the 2011-12 season. The league has already announced the addition of Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Denver (non-football member) for the 2012-13 season, giving it seven members, assuming nobody else defects.
That's not a given, which is why commissioner Karl Benson isn't standing pat. The San Antonio Express-News reported this week that the league was likely to add more teams from a list of candidates that includes Cal-Davis, Cal Poly, Cal St Bakersfield, Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette, Portland State, Sam Houston State, Seattle and Utah Valley State. Only UL-Lafayette currently plays Division I-A football.