Fewer teams making postseason play and neutral locations for some tournaments are some of the cost cutting measures announced by the Western Athletic Conference at a series of recent meetings. Some of the changes may affect some of Utah State University’s teams. The conference’s board of directors approved several measures intended to help the conference and its institutions save money in these difficult economic times. The cost containment measures will take effect with the 2009-10 academic year. As a result of a thorough examination of overall operational expenses related to championships, the Board adopted the WAC Council’s recommendation to reduce the field size in all team sports. Women’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, softball, baseball and soccer will all be six-team championships. The men’s and women’s basketball championship will include eight teams each. The Board also endorsed the Council recommendation to freeze officiating fees at the 2008-09 levels in all sports. The Board also endorsed several cost reductions recommended by the conference office staff. The conference operating budget will be reduced by more than five percent for 2009-10, including moving several printed media guides and other materials online, eliminating the in-person basketball media day, shifting the location of several conference meetings along with moving many committee calls to teleconferences, and eliminating the full time intern position. There will be no salary or benefit increases for conference office staff. WAC Commissioner Karl Benson was supportive of the actions taken by the Board. “The financial landscape of college athletics is such that the WAC Board of Directors demonstrated its leadership by approving several conference-wide cost reductions that will provide immediate relief to our member institutions,” said Benson. “The conference office staff recognizes the severe financial challenges on all of our campuses and will continue to be committed to looking for ways to contain and decrease costs while maintaining the level of service to the membership which we believe is critical to being a viable Division I conference.” In other actions, the Board approved a neutral site for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 baseball championships. The event will be held in Mesa, Arizona, at HoHoKam Park. The Board had already approved a neutral site for volleyball beginning in 2009 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Neutral sites are being considered for other sports, including the men’s and women’s basketball championship.
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