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WAC expansion: Utah rivals star in the latest round of finger-pointing

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Utah State

Utah State and Utah Valley University are already in a heated rivalry and they're not even in the same conference yet. Heck, Utah Valley won't even be in an official NCAA-recognized conference until August. And according to Utah Valley officials, Utah State is ensuring that the Wolverines won't have a chance to improve their conference status.

A story in the Salt Lake Tribune this week quotes Utah Valley officials as saying that they think Utah State is squashing the Wolverines potential entrance into the WAC because the Aggies don't want to compete for basketball recruits, but Utah State claims the WAC needs to focus on football membership.

"Other people in the WAC tell me that if Utah State would support us … we would get in," Utah Valley athletic director Michael Jacobsen told the paper. "We don't think that we're getting that support."

With the Mountain West raiding the WAC during the past couple years -- Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii have all switched conferences -- the WAC is slated to have eight members for 2012-13. The conference was hoping to rectify that membership issue on June 14 when the league presidents meet in Park City, Utah. Utah Valley was among the schools being considered.

But Utah Valley does not have football and Jacobsen told the paper that Utah State officials have told him that WAC membership is focused on adding football schools at this time.

Utah State also vehemently denies that its trying to block Utah Valley from the WAC.

"That's a bunch of B.S.," Utah State president Stan Albrecht said. "There's nothing to block. We haven't even met yet. People have been getting way ahead of themselves on the issue, and it's unfortunate. Until we meet in June, there's really nothing to talk about. The notion that we wouldn't want to compete for recruits is completely untrue. Give me a break. We've competed for decades against Utah and BYU, and we've done quite well."

Honestly, the WAC can't really afford to be blocking any potential members at this point. The current membership is shaky at best. Even Utah State sought entrance into the Mountain West when other teams started leaving the WAC. But if the WAC is to rebuild, it has to do so with an open mind and open doors. There aren't that many teams available and not that many teams that would bring something worthwhile to the conference. And while, yes, the WAC should be focusing on adding schools with football, it needs membership to stay afloat and continue being attractive to television, recruits and its fanbase.

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