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Benson Says Survival Of WAC Is At Stake With Nevada, Fresno State

WAC Commish Claims Early Departure Of Nevada, Fresno State Would Harm Conference

WAC Commissioner Karl Benson yesterday said that the lawsuit "aimed at forcing Nevada and Fresno State to remain in the league through the 2011-2012 academic year was filed last week because the very survival of the conference is at stake," according to Tony Jones of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Benson "spoke of substantial monetary damage to the schools and the league as a whole if Nevada and Fresno State were allowed to head to the MWC in time for 2011." Benson: "The damages the WAC could incur if Fresno State and Nevada left early are very, very significant. ... We have declared consistently that the schedule for 2011 would be drastically challenging for the remaining six members if Nevada and Fresno State left. Contracts with bowl partners would be damaged, our television contract with ESPN would be affected, there are myriad reasons why Fresno and Nevada need to fulfill their obligations to the conference." Jones notes the "other matter at hand is the $5 million buyout that Benson says both schools owe." While not "specifically speaking on the issue," Benson said that Nevada and Fresno State "have 60 days to deliver payment." But he added that the buyouts are a "separate issue." Benson noted that he "hasn't heard from either school since the lawsuit was filed." Nevada President Milton Glick in a statement said, "It is unfortunate that this matter has moved to litigation before any discussions between the parties were undertaken" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/15). Benson said that "keeping Fresno State and Nevada in the league until 2012 is 'the issue that is the most urgent' to avoid what the lawsuit says would be 'irreparable' injuries" to the league -- including the "possible renegotiation of its broadcast contract with ESPN, the potential loss of revenue from the Bowl Championship Series, and the 'impossibility' of scheduling replacement football games for some of its remaining members in the 2011 season." Benson: "Call an athletic director and ask them how difficult it would be to schedule a game for 2011 right now, let alone three of them" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/15).

SUING MWC, TOO: Benson said that the MWC also was "named as a defendant because the WAC wants to keep the MWC, Nevada and Fresno State from scheduling games prior to the 2012 football season." The WAC is "seeking injunctive relief from such action." Benson said that he "did not have any evidence that the MWC and the two schools had already begun communication regarding schedules" (RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL, 9/15).

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