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Montana says no to WAC

by Schuyler Dixon
| November 12, 2010 8:00 PM

DALLAS - Spurned by Montana, the Western Athletic Conference has turned to Texas to deal with life after Boise State.

The WAC announced Thursday that it is adding Texas-San Antonio and Texas State to a football lineup that will lose the BCS-busting Broncos next year and key members Fresno State and Nevada in 2012.

The Texas schools and the University of Denver, which doesn't have football, will join the WAC on July 1, 2012.

The current expansion plan gives the WAC eight football members.

"It won't take long for these two football teams to be playing in bowl games," WAC commissioner Karl Benson predicted. "And could one of these football programs be the next Boise State? Absolutely."

Benson said he thought he would be announcing a nine-team football lineup with Montana, but was told a few hours earlier that the Grizzlies were staying in the lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision and the Big Sky Conference it has dominated at times over the years. Montana President Royce Engstrom said the FCS, in which playoffs determine the champion, "provides our student-athletes and fans with a great experience."

The Montana decision puts Benson back in the search mode for a ninth team.

UTSA is starting a football program that will begin play next year in the 65,000-seat Alamodome under former Miami coach Larry Coker, who won the 2001 BCS national championship. Benson said the league was open to Coker's request to be phased in as a WAC member rather than play a full league schedule in 2012.

Texas State started playing football in 1904 and won consecutive Division II national championships in 1981-82. The Bobcats made the move to FCS two years later. While they are 1-4 in the Southland this year, they've reached the FCS playoffs twice since 2005 and are currently expanding their stadium capacity to nearly 30,000.

Denver needed a conference closer to home after spending 11 years in the Sun Belt, said Peg Bradley-Doppes, the vice chancellor for athletics.

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