The structure of one of the NCAA’s most turbulent leagues may soon be changing again.
The Western Athletic Conference is eyeing possible expansion, according to a radio interview with Utah Valley president Matthew Holland, conducted last week on ESPN 960 Sports.
Holland was asked if the WAC is considering expanding, and he responded that not only is it being discussed, but it is a “high priority.” Holland went on to say that it’s something that might happen sooner rather than later.
“We just know it’s key for stability and stay tuned,” he said. “I think you’ll be hearing something interesting in the near term.”
He then added that an announcement could be made before the end of the season, though he did not name specific schools.
As an eight-team, geographically disjointed league, the WAC is not a conference that can easily poach from other, more stable, leagues. This is especially true given Chicago State’s uncertain future as a university and New Mexico State’s tough luck with its football program. The conference dates back to 1962, but no current basketball member has been part of the WAC for more than 12 years. Arizona, BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Boise State, Nevada, and SMU are among the dozens of schools to cycle through the conference over its history.
The most likely candidate for potential WAC expansion would then seem to be a school new to Division I. There are not any currently unaffiliated members transitioning to D-I, but UC San Diego is openly eyeing a move in the near future. The Tritons seem more likely to join the Big West, but they could nevertheless be a strong fit for the WAC if that does not work out.
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Nebraska-Omaha have both been linked to the WAC in the past as well, but with conference stability at an all-time low, getting those schools to jump on board would be a tough sell.