With the announcement today that Hawai'i is leaving the WAC for the Big West beginning in 2012-13, the WAC is now in danger of losing its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
As of now, the WAC roster for the 2012-13 season is Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico St, San Jose St, Texas-San Antonio, Texas St., Utah St.
The NCAA Bylaw that governs automatic bids in men's basketball says that a conference must have seven "core" institutions, and that six of those must have played together in the same conference for five years. A core institution is one that has been a Division I member for at least eight years. The WAC will have seven core institutions, but Hawai'i leaving drops the league to only five that have played together for five years.
Now, there is a two year grace period to try to get things back in line, but UTSA and Texas St. won't join until 2012-13. They'll have to play in the league five years before the WAC meets both requirements again. The grace period only covers the first two.
That means three years without an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the WAC. That is, unless they can get the rule changed.