An item within the Wikipedia page devoted to the WAC reported the conference would make an announcement Aug. 13 of an agreement with JSU and five other current Football Championship Subdivision schools in the South and East to join the league in 2014.
The others were Georgia Southern, James Madison, Appalachian State, Liberty and Delaware. The WAC’s two remaining football-playing schools after this year — Idaho and New Mexico State — would play one year as Football Bowl Subdivision independents, the item said. It takes eight schools for a conference to maintain its bowl eligibility.
Both Jacksonville State president Bill Meehan and acting WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd shot down the report Thursday.
“I’m sitting here with (athletics director) Warren Koegel and … none of us have heard anything about this,” Meehan said. “If the WAC is making the decision, it’s not (involving) Jacksonville State because we haven’t heard anything. I can tell you we haven’t had any conversations with the WAC people at this point.”
Hurd told The Star “there is absolutely no truth” to the report. He said he was scheduled to attend a bowl function in Boise, Idaho, the day of the reported announcement.
“You’re not the first person who’s asked that (and) said it’s been reported,” Hurd said. “I have not seen it and quite frankly it’s simply not true. I wish I could make an announcement in a week or two that we had everything ready to go for (an FCS expansion), but there’s no truth to it.”
Attempts to reach officials at the other FCS schools named in the report after business hours in the Eastern time zone were unsuccessful. It was reported last month Georgia Southern had nixed the idea of moving to the FBS or the Sun Belt Conference.
A source told The Star Thursday the WAC conversation would be revisited in January.
Gamecocks football coach Jack Crowe revealed the plan of JSU and the others joining the WAC as a way to save that conference from football extinction during last month’s OVC Football Media Day in Nashville. He said he wasn’t aware how those talks have progressed and Koegel told The Star the plan had no traction.
Hurd confirmed there was some “early discussion” with people he called “representatives of the school,” but wouldn’t classify the talks as anything other than “exploratory.”
The Gamecocks have been exploring the possibility of moving to the FBS level since 2007 with the Sun Belt Conference as the recognized preferred destination, but there has never been an invitation extended and the Sun Belt now appears to expanding in a different direction. While it waits, JSU has turned its focus to becoming as strong as it can on the FCS level to become attractive if an FBS invitation becomes available.
“We want to be somebody’s option in the future and we’re going to prepare ourselves to be the best we possibly can be,” Meehan said. “We’d be glad to respond to inquiries and investigate that because one day we’re going to be FBS, but that doesn’t appear to be today.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.