WAC extends Benson’s contract | NevadaAppeal.com

WAC extends Benson’s contract

The Western Athletic Conference recently extended the contract of commissioner Karl Benson through the 2010 school year.

“It was a vote of confidence by the board, which obviously I’m pleased about,” Benson said from his WAC office in Englewood, Colo. “The past year I received a three-year agreement, and they put another year on it.”

Benson has been with the WAC since 1994. The WAC’s 16-team format was in place and would later fail. The WAC was an eight-team league until Nevada and Boise State were brought in starting in 1999. It is nine teams now with the addition of Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State following the defection of Rice, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP.

“What we’ve been able to accomplish has surprised and shocked a lot of people,” Benson said. “Because of Boise State and Nevada on the football and men’s basketball side, we’ve been able to maintain the historical credibility of the WAC. Because of Boise State’s success, it’s given the rest of the schools confidence that a WAC team can play at the highest level.”

Benson said the WAC’s most pressing need is to get a better television contract, especially for men’s basketball and women’s sports. Currently, the WAC is under contract until after the 2009-10 season.

Negotiations broke down with ESPN last year regarding extending the current agreement. Many believe that the WAC’s refusal to have a late-season football game last last year led to a cooling between the parties. The WAC benefitted from the Mountain West Conference leaving ESPN, and two years ago, received several Big Monday games. Last year, the WAC did just four broadcasts, none on Monday.

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Benson remained rather close mouthed regarding expansion. Last year, he indicated several times that the WAC was not in expansion mode.

“History says chance for movement is fairly certain, not just in the WAC but across the board,” Benson said. “The Mountain West Conference would/will play a role, the Big East could play a role and the Big 10 could play a role. Right now, the WAC is enjoying a period of stability, a period of common support.”

The MWC and WAC both are nine-team conferences. It’s a good number for football, but horrible for basketball. Basketball coaches really want a 10th team for travel reasons, but can’t agree whether a school should be invited as an affiliate member. Utah Valley State has been mentioned, but that’s about it.

Nevada coach Mark Fox would like a 10th school, but he doesn’t want a weak team, which could bring down the conference’s power rating.

WAC NOMINATES PAIR

Hawai’i volleyball player Kanoe Kamana’o and Utah State track star Jennie Twitchell have been nominated by the Western Athletic Conference for the 2007 NCAA Woman ofr the Year award.

Kamana’o, besides being an all-conference selection, excels in the classroom (all-WAC academic for four years) and volunteers with the Police Activities League as well as reading to children through the D.A.R.E. program.

Twitchell was fifth in the nation at the 2007 Indoor Track & Field Championships, and she won two gold medals at the WAC Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Twitchell, an all-academic selection, volunteers at a local elementary school and leads youth groups at her church.

HOLBROOK PROJECTED HIGH PICK

According to NFL Blitz.com and Footballs Future.com, New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook will be a first-round selection in next spring’s NFL Draft.

Holbrook passed for 4,619 yards, and was the main reason why the Aggies averaged 31 points per game.

That’s all fine and dandy, but Holbrook would like nothing better than to lead NMSU to its first bowl game since 1960.

“It’s nice to be looked at as a future NFL player,” Holbrook said in a NMSU press release. “I really don’t put too much thought into those mock drafts. I’m strictly focused on the season ahead.”

Holbrook is only an all-WAC second-team selection for Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s publication. Only Hawai’i’s Colt Brennan is ranked ahead of Holbrook.

SPENCER IN BOISE

Former Nevada wide receiver Caleb Spencer has been picked up by the Boise Burn of the Arenafootball2.

Spencer played three years for the Wolf Pack from 2004-2006. In his three-year stint, Spencer caught 190 passes for 2,220 yards and six TDs (1 rushing). Spencer had a career-high 67 receptions in both his sophomore and junior years including a career high 889 receiving yards in 2005. In 2006, Spencer (senior year) led the Wolf Pack in receptions and yards – 56 for 570 yards, 3 TD’s (1 rushing).

Spencer, a native of Hawaii, had a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs before coming to Boise. Spencer will be catching passes from Reno native Bart Hendricks, who played college ball at Boise State.

NMSU INTERVIEWING

CANDIDATES

New Mexico State is moving fast to replace departed head coach Reggie Theus, who resigned to take over the Sacramento Kings head job.

According to Andy Katz from espn.com, Texas assistant Rodney Terry, Arkansas assistant Rob Evans, USC assistant Gib Arnold and Louisville assistant Marvin Menzies are the candidates to be interviewed.

Evans has been a head coach at Arizona State and Ole Miss.

•Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281

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