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WAC has teams lining up to join

HONOLULU (AP) -- Nine teams reportedly are interested in joining
the Western Athletic Conference, should Texas Christian and
Southern Methodist decide to leave.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Wednesday the eight-team
league could expand to as many as 12 schools, or could opt to take
on fewer teams and be a nine-team or ten-team league.

"We have several options available that would allow us to move
on," Benson said. "We definitely will not be caught off-guard
like last time."

He said new teams could be added within 30 days of any
announcement by the two Texas schools.

Among the schools believed to be expressing interest are Boise
State, Idaho, Utah State, Arkansas State, North Texas, New Mexico
State, Southwest Louisiana, Louisiana Tech and Northeast Louisiana.

The WAC already has added Nevada for the 2000 season.

Having 12 teams would allow for two divisions, a conference
championship and a better geographical split. It also could lead to
more bowl tie-ins.

TCU and SMU reportedly are close to leaving the WAC and joining
Conference USA, while Tulsa also has talked of bolting if it finds
a better deal.

Eight schools bolted the WAC to form the Mountain West
Conference, which begins play this school year.

University of Hawaii President Kenneth Mortimer, named chairman
of the WAC board of trustees on Monday, is pressing TCU and SMU to
decide whether they will stay in the WAC.

"If you're with us, we're glad to have you," Mortimer said.

"If not, sayonara."

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