WAC coaches want a neutral site | NevadaAppeal.com

WAC coaches want a neutral site

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – If Western Athletic Conference basketball coaches have their way, the post-season conference tournament will be played at a neutral site starting in 2009.

A source within the WAC said that a vote had been taken, but didn’t know the exact final vote, only to say that it had passed.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said that he was unable to comment on what was discussed at the meeting.

When contacted, WAC commissioner Karl Benson said that a neutral-court championship had indeed been discussed. He also said that the conference will still take bid offers from WAC schools during the summer and have sites for 2009 and 2010.

Cary Groth, Nevada athletic director, said that Nevada will indeed put a bid to host the next tournaments after New Mexico State finishes its two-year run next March.

Was a vote taken?

“Perhaps,” Benson said. “I don’t know if it’s something I’m prepared to acknowledge or not.

“We have to go through a process. I don’t think it’s a surprise that coaches would like a neutral site.”

The WAC Athletic Council, which is made up of athletic directors and senior women administrators, would have to support the coaches’ proposal.

This isn’t the first time a neutral court has been discussed by the coaches. In fact, Benson seemed to be pushing Salt Lake City as a viable site two years ago when the subject first came up.

If the proposal was supported, Benson said that cities and organizations would contact him about hosting the tournament, and he indicated that the WAC has been contacted in the past.

Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Sacramento would certainly be viable non-campus sites.

“It (the site) would have to fit inside our conference geography,” Benson said. “That location (Sacramento) is within WAC boundaries for sure.”

One of the biggest problems with an off-campus site would be arena rental. A neutral site is never going to draw as many fans because of travel considerations, and it’s not certain whether the WAC is popular enough to the general public to do a a good walk-up business.

• Groth said that she has not been contacted by Texas A & M officials for permission to talk to Fox.

Fox announced Thursday at the Nevada Time-Out dinner that he was not interested in the Kansas State job where he was an assistant for several years under Tom Asbury. Bob Huggins left K-State after only one year and was announced as West Virginia’s new head coach on Friday.

Frank Martin, a Huggins assistant, was hired by K-State.

The A & M job is the only major one left after Butler filled its vacancy on Thursday.

• Nick Fazekas won’t finish the semester as a Nevada student. He will leave school early to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Both Fox and Groth said they were disappointed with Fazekas’ decision.

“I think he would have had a couple of hours left (after this semester),” Groth said. “He was so close. I love that guy. Kirk (Snyder) wasn’t even close when he left.”

Fazekas, Nevada’s all-time leading scorer, was one of three players in Division I this year to average a double-double this season.

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