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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 28, 2004

UH president not expecting Mountain West invite

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle said, "it is not of concern," if the school fails to receive an invitation to join the Mountain West Conference this week.

After months of speculation, the MWC is expected to publicly offer Texas Christian University membership this week, possibly as soon as today, which TCU trustees are poised to accept. But after inviting TCU to be the ninth school, indications are the conference may not tender an additional offer.

Nor have UH officials been led to believe they will receive an invitation. "We've not heard anything from them in a while either way," said Lois Manin, the school's sports information director.

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson held out the possibility in November that the conference would expand "by one or two" schools and said Hawai'i, a Western Athletic Conference member since 1979, was under discussion.

Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Texas-El Paso, also WAC members, have lobbied the MWC for an invitation.

But UH athletic director Herman Frazier said through Manin that the last contact the school had with the MWC was, "six to eight weeks ago" when it was asked to supply some data. Manin said the information included attendance figures.

Dobelle has publicly touted on several occasions the MWC's benefits to UH and what the school could bring to the conference. Asked yesterday if he was concerned UH might not receive an invitation, Dobelle said, "not really."

In a written statement, Dobelle said: "We can play our way into all NCAA championships, regardless of the conference, except for football and that is a matter that Congress is taking up. I thought (the) Mountain West offered better rivalries that would excite Mainland alumni more where they live — Utah, Las Vegas, San Diego — otherwise, unless it is a Pac-10 or Big12, it is not of concern."

Dobelle said, "If (the) Mountain West goes to 12 teams and asks us, we will be happy to consider it."

The MWC is composed of eight schools (Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah and Wyoming) that broke away from the 16-member WAC after the 1998 season.

From its inception until May 2003, the MWC had a moratorium on expansion.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.