With an eye toward regional balance and adding more football bowl games, the Western Athletic Conference announced Monday that Boise State and Louisiana Tech will be joining in 2001.
The WAC was again forced to take in new members after Texas Christian bolted for Conference USA last week. That defection came only months after eight teams left to form the Mountain West.
School presidents of the remaining seven schools--plus Nevada, which is joining the WAC next summer--met over the weekend and debated whether the league should have eight, 10 or 12 schools.
They opted for 10 because it would allow the WAC to remain one division, while also making sure it could handle future departures.
Boise State, currently in the Big West, will give the WAC five Western teams, joining Fresno State, San Jose State, Nevada and Hawaii.
Louisiana Tech, a football independent and a basketball member of the Sun Belt Conference, will be part of the "eastern" half of the league with Rice, SMU, Tulsa and Texas El Paso.
Losing Boise State will leave the Big West with 10 schools. It gives the conference's six California schools--Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Pacific--more leverage in the attempt to reform the conference. Officials from those six schools met Monday to discuss the future of the conference, according to a Big West source.
What will happen in the Big West will likely be determined by the California schools, none of which play football. The conference will either become a California conference, with UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and/or Sacramento State being added, or a remain a 10-team conference, but without football, according to conference sources.