UH joining Mountain West football and Big West for other sports

M.R.C. Greenwood
M.R.C. Greenwood
Greg McMackin
Greg McMackin

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's official!

As hoped, the Warrior football team is now apart of the Mountain West Conference, starting with the 2012 season.

Also, as expected, Hawaii's other sports teams will be joining the Big West Conference, beginning with the 2012 season as well.

That's with the exception of sailing, men's and women's swimming and diving, as well as men's volleyball. The invitation from the MWC came in a telephone call early Friday morning to UH president M.R.C. Greenwood from commissioner Craig Thompson.

"We're headed in a new direction, this is really a historic and great day for the University of Hawaii," UH athletics director Jim Donovan said. "This is what our coaches and what our fans want and we delivered."

But some financial issues still need to be worked out.

"There are a lot of financial issues that are changing with all of these conferences as we speak, so I don't think we can make projections about winning or losing financially right now, but consider this as a critical investment," Greenwood said.

As part of a cost-sharing deal, Donovan said Hawaii will be responsible for a large part of airfare costs. But UH will not have to pay an entry fee to either league.

Friday's news was also very welcoming for UH coaches. Hawaii spent 32 years in the WAC and was its longest-standing member.

But nearly all of them supported a move to the Big West and of course, head football coach Greg McMackin, his staff and players, were all on-board for a move to the Mountain West.

"We were in that in that before, so there's a lot of rivalries, it's already helped our recruiting, we're having a very good recruiting year and when this came out, it even got better," he said.

Rainbow Wahine volleyball head coach Dave Shoji feels the same way.

"The competition's better, we renew a lot of old rivalries, a lot of people know about Long Beach State, how many times they eliminated us, UOP's has a great history with us, Cal-Poly, Santa Barbara, so the fans are really going to love watching these teams come in, for us, it's brings back a lot of memories," he said.

As far as television rights go, UH officials said both the Mountain West and Big West control the rights of all of the schools.

So it's still unclear as to how that part of the equation will unravel. Hawaii will give up its share of WAC money for a season, as part of its exit penalty.

Starting in 2012, the MWC will include teams like Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii, Colorado State, San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming and Air Force.

The BWC will feature UH, Cal-Poly, UC-Davis, Cal-State Fullerton, Long Beach State, Cal-State Northridge, UC-Irvine, UC-Riverside, UC-Santa Barbara and Pacific.

Hawaii's women's programs were in the Big West from 1984 to 1996, before joining its men's programs in the WAC.

"I couldn't be more delighted, I've been with the conference for 30 years, some of the best years were those 12 years that UH was part of our conference and I am just thrilled that whatever role I could've played in making this happen, has happened," Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell said.

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