The Western Athletic Conference, home of your 2003 National Champion Rice Owls Baseball Team, is thinking about expanding to 12 teams.
Speaking at the WAC preseason football media gathering, [WAC Commissioner Karl] Benson said the league's athletic directors expressed interest during a meeting last fall of adding two teams and splitting into eastern and western divisions.
The WAC has 10 teams, only four of which are in the Central Time Zone -- Rice, SMU, Tulsa and Louisiana Tech. Adding two more schools from the Central Time Zone would allow the conference to have two six-team divisions and reduce travel.
Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State, San Jose State, Nevada and Texas-El Paso would be in the west, with Rice, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Tulsa and two other schools in the east.
Benson said the conference toyed with the idea of splitting into divisions in 2000 but shelved the idea until last fall. Now that the dominoes have been put in motion for nationwide realignment with Virginia Tech and Miami leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Benson believes the WAC needs to be proactive.
"From a timing standpoint, everything rests in the Big East's hands, and we're waiting for the Big East to decide what their structure is going to be," he said. "We are prepared that if the Big East goes in the direction they're headed and extends invitations to some Conference USA schools, that we'll be prepared to react in a way to put us in a positive position."
Benson wouldn't identify which schools the WAC would target, but Houston -- which currently competes in C-USA -- is believed to be on the list. TCU, which left the WAC for C-USA following the 2000 season, and Tulane are options.
"We have identified some particular schools we thought could be a good fit," he said. "The six-team Central Time Zone division is still a top priority for us, but I've been able to say as the dominoes fall that there may be schools available to the WAC that weren't available to us in 2000 when we started to go down the division route."