Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters hints at league shakeup

30 10 2010

When asked Saturday afternoon where the Sun Belt currently sits within the conference shuffle landscape, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters hinted at the possibility of the University of Denver indeed leaving the league for the Western Athletic Conference.

“Obviously the WAC piece you’ll see resolved in the next 30 to 60 days and I think may impact Denver,” Waters said. “Denver has been looking for some time for a western home that geographically makes more sense as the league becomes more concentrated to the southeast. If that happens, we’ll move very slow, very deliberate.”

Waters said that if Denver does indeed leave, the league will put no pressure on itself to immediately add a member. If Denver does in fact leave, the league will feature 11 teams rather than 12 for men’s and women’s basketball.

“I think you’ll hear a lot of speculation about what we should do, but the reality is that 11 is a number that works,” he said. “The Big Ten was 11 for a long time, the ACC was nine for a long time. We’ll go very slow and because of the things we did in 2000, 2004 and that time period – we will be able to go slow and look for somebody who does bring incredible value to the league.”

I also spoke with Waters about the recent flak being tossed about the conference’s new rolling 150 RPI policy. Waters said that unpopular or not, the mandate was something that had to be done.

“It was something that had to be done,” Waters said. “If they’re happy being 23rd out of 31 or your team being No. 200 then maybe you need to be somewhere else doing something else.

“At the end of the day our presidents weren’t happy, our conference office wasn’t happy – we’ve talked about how to improve it, but now we just said this is what we’re going to do.”

One gripe from several coaches was the fact that by eliminating non-Division I opponents, scheduling home games would become increasingly difficult – Waters says he understands scheduling is a challenge, but the schools need to put forth the effort to make it happen.

“There’s enough Division I schools in our area, people follow our schools, you just have to go where you have to go and get it done,” he said. “People have connections and people that are networked will get games and people that are doing things the right way will have people come and want to play. It’s part of coaching. There’s parts of my job and parts of your job that are harder than others – getting home games will be a difficult part but it’s something that’s got to be done.”

As far as the lack of enforcement or penalties are concerned, Waters says that is something that will be handled by each member president – saying that if coaches choose to ignore the new mandate, then they’ll have to deal with their own university.

“If the editor or your paper says do something and you don’t do it, what happens?” Waters said. “It’s the same thing here, this isn’t a commissioner decision or athletic director decision it’s a presidential decision.

“If my boss says something, I’ve got two choices and the one that works best is just to do it.”

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