SBD/August 21, 2012/CollegesPrint All
The Western Athletic Conference is “forging ahead in its battle for survival with the realization that it will not be a football-playing conference after this season,” according to Irv Moss of the DENVER POST. WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd yesterday said that the “emphasis has turned to finding enough schools to retain NCAA Division I recognition as a nonfootball league.” Hurd: “I think that sometime in late July it became apparent that it was unlikely we could continue with football." He said that “challenges remain for the WAC to continue, even as a nonfootball conference” as it must “add multiple new members for the 2013-14 school year in order to have the necessary seven for NCAA recognition.” Seven schools -- Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Texas State, Utah State and Texas-San Antonio -- "will compete in the WAC's final football season" (DENVER POST, 8/21). CBSSPORTS.com’s Matt Hinton noted the WAC “becomes the first Division I conference to call it quits in football since the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1995, and the first casualty of the most recent round of conference realignment.” The conference “plans to continue as a non-football league, though there's some considerable doubt about its viability in other sports, too.” Only current member New Mexico State, along with the Univ. of Denver and Seattle Univ., which join the conference next year, are “on board as full-fledged members for all sports” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/20).
The Univ. of Oregon football team’s 13-year sellout streak at Autzen Stadium "could come to a surprising end," according to Adam Jude of the Portland OREGONIAN. As of Friday morning, “about 5,000 tickets remained for the Ducks' season opener against Arkansas State on Sept. 1, leaving UO officials scrambling for a quick way to promote one of the most marketable teams in college football.” The school in March announced that it “was raising ticket prices for the fifth year in a row.” Oregon reported that season-ticket renewals surpassed 90% this year, with "more than 40,000 season tickets sold.” But that is “a drop" from a 96% renewal rate in '11. Jude noted the team's “underwhelming nonconference slate, in addition to the raised ticket prices in a still-sluggish economy, seems to have turned some fans off.” Another factor is the fact that UO's fall term classes "don't start until late September, meaning most students will not be back on campus for the Sept. 1 opener.” That has left “several thousand tickets allotted for students available for the public to purchase” (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/18). In Arizona, Greg Hansen writes, “If tickets aren’t selling in Eugene, everyone in the league should be concerned.” USC averaged “just 74,806 last season, down almost 15,000 from the Pete Carroll glory days.” Arizona State will “soon abandon its effort to fill 71,000 seats at Your-Name-Here Stadium, decreasing capacity by perhaps 15,000.” ASU has “averaged just 48,556, 47,942 and 59,004 the last three seasons.” Univ. of Arizona, on the other hand, has been “so aggressive in attempt to sell football tickets (and change its image) that on Saturday it dispatched [coach Rich Rodriguez] and 11 players on a caravan, door-to-door, rewarding old-line fans with hand-delivered ducats” (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 8/21).