JSU AD: Nothing in the works with move to WAC
by Al Muskewitz
amuskewitz@annistonstar.com
Jul 28, 2012 | 5924 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacksonville State football coach Jack Crowe created a little buzz during Monday’s Ohio Valley Conference Media Day when he said correspondence has been exchanged about the ailing Western Athletic Conference possibly adding several Southern FCS schools to maintain its survival and the Gamecocks would “like to have a discussion to see if we’re one of them.”

The revelation sparked headlines within the OVC media and caught on in several western climes, but JSU’s athletics director suggested the snow tires the current WAC coaches and players use in the winter to help get back and forth from campus might have more grip than this idea.

“It doesn’t have any traction,” JSU athletics director Warren Koegel said Friday. “We’re in the Ohio Valley Conference. We’re going to stay in the Ohio Valley Conference. The only thing I can tell you is a couple years ago our board made statements that they’d look at opportunities at what may be available, but right now there’s nothing concrete that’s available.”

Any move to the Football Bowl Subdivision by JSU has always been linked to the more regionally appealing Sun Belt Conference, but the interest doesn’t appear mutual. Crowe said Monday the WAC is “sort of the only thing that’s out there,” and didn’t know where things stood with it. It is unlikely JSU’s other sports would be allowed to remain in the OVC if the football team jumped to another league.

Crowe told reporters that in the wake of all the FBS expansion, “there’s probably going to be five or six FCS schools that are going to be pulled into the bottom of the WAC.

“We’ve had correspondence with them, but there’s nothing going on; it’s just sitting there. I think sometime after football season the WAC is going to either say we’re done (as a conference), we’re not crossing the country or they’re going to cross the country and offer 6, 7, 8 FCS schools to join them in some way.”

JSU and James Madison were reportedly among the leaders considering a move to help the struggling league, and interim WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd was quoted in media reports that a group of schools from the East did approach the conference in “March or April” about the possibility, but didn’t know their identities. Georgia Southern (which reportedly has said it wouldn’t accept a WAC invite), Liberty and Appalachian State also have been mentioned in connection with a new-look WAC.

There also have been reports the WAC is considering suspending football in 2013. The conference currently has seven football-playing schools, but will be down to two — Idaho and New Mexico State — when the others bolt for Conference USA, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt.

“I wouldn’t know what the WAC is going to do; that’s their life,” Koegel said. “They have some issues they have to deal with. I have no idea what the future is going to be for the future of those conferences right now. There’s a lot of migration. Who knows?”

Koegel said he speaks to athletics administrators on various levels about a variety of issues but doesn’t recall any conversations about JSU to the WAC. He didn’t admonish Crowe for any comments that might be construed as speaking out of school.

“Right now there is nothing going on (at JSU) other than trying to improve our facilities .. and continue to progress forward,” Koegel said. “We’re in the Ohio Valley Conference. We’re happy to be in the Ohio Valley Conference. We know this is a good conference. We work well with the other schools.

“We’re working every day to improve in all areas of our athletics department and university and working together to do well and continue to be a player on a national level. I would say to you at this point there is no reason to bring (the WAC issue) up. I have no reason to bring it up right now.”

Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.

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