Idaho Committed to WAC - Whatever It Becomes - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

University of Idaho

Idaho Committed to WAC - Whatever It Becomes

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Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear said he hasn't spoken with Vandal athletes about the latest changes in the WAC. He lets the coaches do that. (Photo: SWX) Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear said he hasn't spoken with Vandal athletes about the latest changes in the WAC. He lets the coaches do that. (Photo: SWX)

Idaho Hopes Deal Between WAC, BYU Still a Possibility

Jared Frank

The University of Idaho is committed to the future of the Western Athletic Conference, no matter what the WAC may become, said Vandal athletic director Rob Spear on Thursday.

Spear, speaking in a teleconference, said he and university president M. Duane Nellis were "disappointed" by the decision by Fresno State and Nevada to leave the conference as early as 2012. But he said the conference will go on and the Vandals will be a big part of it.

"The thing that we can control here is that we're going to get better as a program," Spear said. "We'll take care of ourselves and position ourselves for the future."

Spear admitted that Montana would be a potential addition to the conference, as would Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, and a handful of California schools.

With three of the biggest football powers out of the conference in a couple of years, unless the WAC adds some big-name program, the race to the top of the conference is wide open. Idaho, Spear believes, is in prime position to take advantage of the chaos.

"Nobody believed when we started in the WAC that we'd get to a bowl game. We did and we won that bowl game. I think our future is bright," Spear said.

Aside from the competition on the field or court, the biggest obstacle in the Vandals' way is bringing in enough revenue to remain stable. The WAC thought it had things figured out by bring BYU's minor sports into the fold, a move that likely would have attracted generous TV dollars to the conference. But BYU, in its possible move towards independence in football, hasn't officially announced its intentions and some believe with Fresno State and Nevada out of the mix, the Cougars could be gone.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said earlier on Thursday that the BYU deal is still possible, and if approved the Cougars would fill their football schedule with four to six games per year.

"Hopefully we can resurrect and keep this potential agreement with BYU going and solidify this thing into the future," said Spear of the potential agreement. "It's disappointing to get that close to getting this thing done that would have solidified things, but we're going to move forward from here and not look back at what could have happened."

Spear said the University of Idaho supports the WAC in its efforts to get Nevada and Fresno State to pay up on a $5 million fine it incurred upon leaving the WAC.

"I support the document that was negotiated and signed, and based on the information I have it's totally enforceable," he said.

Asked whether this week's near-collapse of the WAC has him doubting the conference or its leadership, Spear simply said, "No."

Now that's commitment.

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