It’s official: UH switching athletic conferences

December 11, 2010, 7:13 AM HST · Updated December 11, 7:13 AM
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By Fred Guzman

The deals have been done. The University of Hawaii officially is switching conferences. Effective June 30, 2012, UH will leave the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West in football only. All other athletic teams – with the exception of men’s volleyball and the swimming teams — will switch to the Big West.

The exodus represents a huge blow to the WAC. Three of the eroding conferences football teams are currently ranked nationally. No. … Boise State will exit this summer, to be followed by No. … Nevada and No. … Hawaii, as well as bowl-bound Fresno State, the following summer. The will leave the WAC with only seven football-playing teams, including Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, both of which will join that year.

The change will come at significant financial cost to Hawaii, which will have to subsidize travel costs for visiting teams. UH officials declined to provide numbers during Friday’s press conference, but it’s safe to project a cost of more than $150,000 for each visiting team in football and a substantially lesser amount for smaller teams in other sports.

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There will also be dramatic changes in television revenues, including a likely end to a pay-per-view deal that has generated about $2.5 million dollars for the cash-strapped UH athletic department. But Mountain West members are each currently receiving about $1.5 million from their TV deal.

The projected shortfalls will be offset by a more attractive football schedule as well as less costly travel in other sports.

The Big West is currently a nine-team conference comprised of teams based in California. They are: Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach; Cal State Northridge, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Santa Barbara and Pacific.

UH HOOPS: Much has transpired since the University of Hawaii basketball team last played a game at the Stan Sheriff Center.

For one thing, the Rainbows suffered their first two games of the season, dropping a 54-53 decision at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo followed by decisive defeat at No. 18 BYU.

For another, two reserve guards left the squad as junior college transfer Anthony Salter and true freshman Jordan Coleman bailed out because of concerns about lack of playing time.

Their departures leaves UH with only nine active players for tonight’s 7 o’clock game against Division-II Hawaii Pacific as senior power forward Bill Amis, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, is still recovering from a stress fracture to his right foot.

Finally, first-year coach Gib Arnold seriously tweaked his lineup against BYU and isn’t letting on as to who he intends to start tonight.

Against the Cougars, Arnold started three true freshmen — Bobby Miles, Bo Barnes and Trevor Wiseman — to go along with sophomores Joston Thomas and Vander Joaquim.

That relegated senior point guard Hiram Thompson, a team captain and a returning starter, to reserve status for the first time this season. To his credit, Thompson didn’t sulk. Instead, he played well and scored 15 points.

On Friday, UH will play a “home game” of sorts when it faces Chicago State at the Lahaina Civic Center.

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