Remember back when we jokingly made that graphic of the "few, very minor" changes the Western Athletic Conference had made in their illustrious history? It seemed pretty humorous at the time, what seemed like a history of shuffling the deck chairs and scrambling just to stay relevant.
Well, it seems now they've taken "grasping for relevance" to a whole new level, by simply giving away their identity. That's right, in what may or may not be a shrewd move, WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd has contacted new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco about the naming issue that the old Big East has to solve by May 2, and a deal was struck.
According to a source close to the discussions, over the next 10 years, the old Big East will give a total of $36 million dollars to the old WAC for the right to call themselves the WAC from here forward. A full announcement should be made later this week once paperwork is completed.
Confused? Yeah, me too. Follow along.
- The Catholic 7 and their three new members (Xavier, Butler and Creighton) will retain the Big East name.
- The old Big East members (Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and Connecticut) and their newly acquired acquisitions (Temple, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina, and Southern Methodist and Central Florida) will form what will now become the Western Athletic Conference (the previous front-runner name was America 12).
- The conference previously known as the Western Athletic Conference, now that a large chunk of their membership is coming from that location anyway, will become the Great West Conference.
According to Aresco, it was a reasonably easy solution that he and Hurd came to after a lengthy discussion.
"It made sense to both of us," said Aresco. "From our end, transitioning one name from another conference was easier than having to drag out a voting process that was guaranteed to not make everyone happy. Also, from a financial aspect, the price might seem a little steep to some, but with the new television deal we just put in place, we could easily afford something like this."
"Honestly, why not?" Hurd said. "Let's be honest, the WAC doesn't really exist anymore, not the way that anybody remembers it. We only have two teams that even remotely resemble "original" members (Idaho and New Mexico State). Since we are essentially hitting the reset button on our members, it only made sense to reset our name and identity, and reap the financial benefits of someone else wanting to capitalize on that change."
On the one hand, what a financial windfall for the old WAC now Great West - they get to re-brand themselves and start fresh. They also get to give roughly $250,000 per year for the next decade to their current members (a number that will certainly help a school like Seattle University, whose women's basketball team made the NIT this season), while the other half will stay with the conference offices as a sort of slush fund.
On the other hand, good grief. When I mentioned sarcastically the other day that these teams realigning should just take their conference names with them, I at least thought I was joking. Now I can only wish that I was.
Oh wait, I am joking, in case you didn't notice what day it was.