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Eight Schools Hit WAC Over The Head

The eight schools leaving the Western Athletic Conference have given the remaining schools formal notice of their secession.

The new league is scrambling to find a name in time for televised football games in the coming weeks, an Air Force Academy official said Friday.

Letters of withdrawal signed by the presidents of the departing schools were sent to the other institutions Thursday with a copy to WAC commissioner Karl Benson, said Col. Hans Mueh, who represents Air Force on a transition team the eight schools set up to handle the split.

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  • Under WAC bylaws, the schools had to send the letters by Sept. 1 in order to leave the conference after the upcoming academic year. June 30, 1999, will be their final day as WAC members, said Mueh, the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative at Air Force.

    Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Nevada-Las Vegas, Utah and Wyoming announced in May that they planned to leave the 16-team conference. They cited the loss of traditional rivalries, rising travel costs and insufficient revenue growth.

    The departing schools have hired a Las Vegas advertising firm to help name the new league and design a logo. Mueh said the frm was planning to announce the name on Oct. 1, but many school officials want to have it in time for televised games as early as next weekend.

    "I think we need to get the name out there," Mueh said. "It would be nice if we could get some of the color commentators to call the conference by what the name is going to be."

    The schools have asked for proposals from cities that want to play host to the new league's headquarters. The deadline for responses is Sept. 15, but Mueh said there is serious interest from Salt Lake City, San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Colorado Springs and Las Vegas.

    The letters of withdrawal went out a week after the schools that will remain in the WAC rejected a proposed separation agreement. They were unhappy because the departing schools declined to give up $2.6 million in NCAA men's basketball tournament revenue.

    The departing schools say their basketball teams earned 28 of 33 revenue units, or shares, due to the WAC from last season's play, each worth about $80,000. NCAA finalist Utah and the other seven schools don't want to give up that cash, but Mueh said they may end up ceding it.

    "I think the sense is that we're going to leave the shares behind. I think a lot of us feel the need to move forward and get on with this," he said, adding that the presidents of the 16 WAC schools will likely discuss the basketball revenue in further talks Wednesday on a separation deal.

    The schools staying in the WAC are Southern Methodist, San Jose State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Rice, Texas Christian, Texas-El Paso and Tulsa.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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