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Star-Telegram.com

UT Arlington considers moving to WAC

Posted Friday, Jul. 08, 2011

By David Thomas

dthomas@star-telegram.com

The University of Texas System board of regents is scheduled to vote Thursday whether to approve UT Arlington leaving the Southland Conference for the Western Athletic Conference.

UTA officials could not comment because the action is pending, but background information included in the board meeting agenda said that the move would take effect July 1, 2012, and that the WAC's invitation is not conditioned on UTA restarting a football program.

WAC university presidents voted unanimously June 5 to invite UTA, the agenda states, and commissioner Karl Benson visited the campus June 29 to meet with President James Spaniolo and athletic director Pete Carlon.

UT San Antonio and Texas State, also members of the Southland Conference, accepted invitations to join the WAC last November. Other members are Denver, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Seattle and Utah State.

During the conference shuffling that took place last year, the WAC lost members Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada.

UTA is a charter member of the Southland Conference, which was established in 1963.

Southland commissioner Tom Burnett said Friday that he had heard and read "rumors and things floating around the Internet" that the WAC was pursuing UTA, but didn't learn until this week UTA would accept the invitation.

Burnett said schools that leave the conference without two years' notice, as UTA would do, are subject to a $300,000 withdrawal fee.

A move to the WAC would come in the first full seasons in which UTA's basketball and volleyball teams would play in the new $78 million special events center scheduled to open by next spring.

David Thomas, 817-390-7697

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