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Directory of Western Athletic Conference Resources

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The Western Athletic Conference begins a new era this year, but one thing remains the same as the WAC begins its 38th season it will continue to feature exciting competition at some of the most diverse campuses in the nation. The tradition-laden state of Texas will join coastal-rich California, tropical Hawaii and sports-rich Oklahoma in housing the members of the WAC, who head into a new era of opportunity and optimism. The WAC provides its student-athletes the opportunity to travel to scenic destinations and gain exposure in several of the nation's largest and most accessible media markets. In addition, the academic reputation of many of the WAC schools is unparalleled, with some of the nation's most respected institutions of higher learning among the WAC ranks. Though its membership has undergone change over the last few years, several exciting developments occurred in June, 1999. The University of Nevada was added as the conference's ninth member beginning July 1, 2000. The conference signed a multi-year television deal with Fox Sports Net for coverage of football and basketball. Two new bowl games were added to the schedule with the Mobile Alabama Bowl in 1999 and the Silicon Valley Bowl in 2000. Finally, Fresno State and Tulsa were awarded the 2000 and 2001 men's and women's basketball tournaments, respectively. Among the nation's Division I-A conferences, the WAC is still in its youth. Its history traces back to only 1962, when the original six-team league was created. The concept of a Western Athletic Conference began in 1958 when Brigham Young's Edwin Kimball, Leo Harris of Oregon and Roy S. Keen of Oregon State met during the NCAA Convention in New York to discuss the "ideal conference" because problems existed in their alignments. They believed such a conference should have eight members with approximately the same goals, ideals and resources and that such a union would include the following members: Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Arizona State and Brigham Young. Although the meeting did not result in any action, it established an idea that again was discussed two years later at the 1960 NCAA Convention in New York. There, Dick Clausen, athletic director at Arizona, and Pete McDavid, athletic director at New Mexico, organized a meeting which included representatives of Oregon State, Oregon, Washington State, Brigham Young, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Arizona State. Glenn "Red" Jacoby of Wyoming also was to be invited to the meeting but could not be located on short notice. BYU's Dr. Kimball was elected the chairman of the group and, over the next two years, plans were formulated as the faculty representatives and presidents became involved with the athletic directors in the deliberations. As proposals were discussed, finances became the determining factor, evidenced by the following membership criteria: large facilities or a commitment to build them; location in or near a large population center; large student body; easy access by means of large jet aircraft; demonstrated fan support; winning athletic tradition; and commitment to maintain a varied and extensive athletic program. While the membership structure was debated, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State decided to re-align with the other Pacific Coast institutions, and the remaining university representatives were left to fill the openings. Although Wyoming, New Mexico State and Utah State applied, only Wyoming was accepted as the final charter member. By the end of 1961, a working draft of a constitution, by-laws and operating code was drafted by Thomas Hall, the faculty representative at Arizona, and Paul Brechler, the WAC's first commissioner. On July 27, 1962, the conference officially was organized by the Presidents' Council when the original charter was signed, and the name Western Athletic Conference was adopted. Charter members were Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The two Arizona schools had been members of the Border Conference; the others were members of the Skyline. The WAC began operation with the 1962-63 academic year, and several changes have occurred since. UTEP and Colorado State became members in September 1967, while Arizona and Arizona State withdrew on June 30, 1978. Since that time, membership additions include San Diego State (July 1, 1978), Hawaii (July 1, 1979), the United States Air Force Academy (July 1, 1980), Fresno State (July 1, 1992) and UNLV, Rice, San Jose State, SMU, TCU and Tulsa (July 1, 1996). Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah and Wyoming widthrew on June 30, 1999. Paul Brechler was the WAC Commissioner from 1962-1968, Wiles Hallock from 1968-1971, Stan Bates from 1971-80, Dr. Joe Kearney from 1980-94 and Karl Benson from 1994 to the present. The WAC began competition with 10 sports, including football, basketball, track and field, baseball, wrestling, swimming, tennis, golf, cross country and gymnastics. The first championship was held in November 1962, when Arizona won the men's cross country title. New Mexico followed with the first WAC football title. Arizona finished second in the NCAA College World Series and, less than three years later, Arizona State claimed the league's first NCAA title when the Sun Devils won the College World Series trophy. Before July 1, 1990, the WAC sponsored championships only in men's sports. However, a merger with the High Country Athletic Conference formed a single conference under one administrative structure, and the 1990-91 athletic year was the first in which both men and women competed under the WAC name. Presently the WAC crowns team and individual champions in 20 sports 10 men's and 10 women's. For the men, there are championships in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field. Championships for women are held in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and volleyball. Several affiliate members have been added for the 1999-2000 season including Hawaii-Hilo in baseball, Loyola Marymount and Portland State in softball and Drury College in men's soccer. The WAC office has been located in the Denver area since the conference's inception with the exception of a two-year stay in Phoenix


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