WAC Commissioner says Fresno State can't leave until 2012

Fresno, CA

Karl Benson fully expects Fresno State to remain with the WAC for two more seasons. Benson said he is not interested in entertaining an early out for Fresno State.

The commissioner also dismissed talk the school won't have to pay a five-million dollar penalty because BYU is not joining the WAC.

Bulldog Stadium is being prepared for Saturday's home opener against Cincinnati and the start of what the school hopes will be its final year in the WAC.

But WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said he expected both Fresno State and Nevada to stay put through June 30, 2012.

Benson said, "Per WAC by-laws they will participate in 2011-2012 unless the WAC releases them from that and I think we've been pretty clear that this is not our intention at this time."

A WAC resolution obtained by Action News showed Fresno State's five-million dollar penalty for leaving hinged on BYU joining the WAC.

BYU though is going independent in football and joining the West Coast Conference in other sports. But Benson still expects a buyout payment from Fresno State. He said, "Our attorneys believe very strongly that despite BYU not joining the WAC in the other sports as was proposed that the resolution is enforceable."

Fans buying football tickets would like to see Fresno State jump to the Mountain West next season. Joe Bigham said, "Oh sure I think they would but I'm not sure that's the right way to do it. I think it's time because this league has not been competitive in many ways, the WAC. I feel sorry for the rest of the teams."

Benson says an early Bulldog exit would cause irreparable financial harm to the remaining WAC schools.

Fresno State officials would only say they continue to seek a speedy resolution of WAC issues.

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