UTSA making jump to C-USA
Roadrunners leaving WAC, continue fast jump to FBS football
SAN ANTONIO -- Conference USA is set to bring aboard Texas-San Antonio ahead of a planned merger with the Mountain West that would create a new league with as many as 24 schools.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents has scheduled a vote for Wednesday, and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has recommended approving the move only months before UTSA is set to begin its first season in the Western Athletic Conference.
Football coach Larry Coker and UTSA officials apparently began having reservations about the WAC, telling regents that three other WAC members have declared their intentions to defect. The agenda does not reveal which of the remaining football-playing WAC schools -- Utah State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, Texas State or San Jose State -- plan to depart.
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"Joining CUSA ... will provide greater national visibility and association with universities of similar enrollment, academic standing and community size," the agenda item reads.
WAC spokesman Dave Chaffin and UTSA spokesman Brian Hernandez did not immediately return messages Saturday.
UTSA went 4-6 in its inaugural football season as an independent in FCS last year, but the program has sought to accelerate its national profile.
The Roadrunners made a splash by giving Coker his first coaching job since Miami (Fla.), where he won a national championship in 2001. UTSA then made the 66,000-seat Alamodome their home field and are now transitioning at a pace that is among the fastest in history into playing in college football's top tier.
C-USA officials contacted UTSA in March, according to the agenda. UTSA will incur no exit fees for leaving the WAC and pay a $2 million initiation fee to C-USA.
C-USA is losing Houston, SMU, Memphis and Central Florida. The remaining schools are Texas-El Paso, Tulane, Alabama-Birmingham, East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss and Tulsa.
Speaking at an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting earlier this month, C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said of the planned merger with the Mountain West that the idea of consolidation continues to be getting traction.
"I view these changes as more or less natural changes," Banowsky said at the April 16 meeting in Birmingham, Ala. "I think it just happens and you can decide how you want to react to it, whether you fear it or embrace it. We're trying to reposition our universities in the best possible way and move them forward."