But now Action News has learned the Bulldogs can avoid that penalty altogether in just six days.
According to a WAC resolution obtained by Action News, Fresno State's buyout fee for bolting to the Mountain West Conference hinges on the WAC's ability to land BYU, a move now in serious jeopardy.
Think of it as a pre-nuptial agreement for the WAC's courting of BYU. The school wanted assurances before leaving the MWC.
The deal came down very quickly and ABC-30 Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi believes Fresno State may be off the hook for a large penalty payment.
The WAC resolution says "In the event no written agreement is executed by BYU on or before September 1st ... then this resolution is terminated."
Capozzi said the language may provide an out for Fresno State. He explained, "This resolution is put together with the intent of having BYU tucked into the WAC. I think with BYU not coming in the WAC, this agreement is not worth the paper it's written."
The resolution calls for a five-million dollar penalty should any WAC member leave. But Capozzi said it is contingent on BYU becoming a WAC member. He added, "I don't think Fresno State should be paying five-million dollars. If the WAC is really insistent, I would clearly take it to court. One of the clauses, clause six, indicates if BYU or any of the other schools leaves then the resolution is terminated."
BYU wanted to go independent in football but join the WAC for other sports.
The WAC resolution was agreed upon Friday the 13th. Five days later, Commissioner Craig Thompson e-mailed an invitation to Fresno State to join the Mountain West.
President John Welty responded "I am delighted to accept your offer - including the terms ... "
Jack Fertig is a former Director of Basketball Operations at Fresno State. He's troubled by the way the shift has played out. Fertig said, "You have to make moves now that I think in years past people wouldn't do. I think the integrity is compromised because of money."
Twelve years ago Fresno State was snubbed when Mountain West schools broke ranks with the WAC. Fertig says schools no longer show conference loyalty. Fertig said, "When it comes down to it, everybody's out for themselves. It's a bad message to send I think to youth or to anybody."
BYU officials face a September 1st deadline to make a decision. Certainly a six-member WAC lineup is not as attractive without Fresno State and Nevada.