Notes: Sun Belt’s Waters says Denver could leave league

Jonathan Lintner

Conference realignment has stalled since Brigham Young bolted from the Mountain West Conference and the Western Athletic Conference lost Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State.

Waters said he expects the WAC’s issues to be resolved in the next 30-60 days, meaning a move could be in order for the Sun Belt’s western-most member, Denver.

“Denver has been looking for some time for a western home that geographically makes more sense as the league has become more concentrated in the southeast,” Waters said. “I think if and when that happens, we’ll move very slow — very deliberately. You’ll hear a lot of speculation about what we should do, but in reality, 11 is a number that works.”

Waters said there’s no pressure for the Sun Belt to add another member should Denver leave.

Waters says presidents will uphold new rules

New Sun Belt Conference guidelines for men’s basketball scheduling were made official earlier this week, requiring member schools to piece together a non-conference schedule whose opponents’ average Ratings Percentage Index Ranking is better than 150.

It’s just that the Sun Belt didn’t put any potential sanctions in place for coaches who don’t schedule within the new rules.

Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters, speaking outside of WKU’s Houchens-Smith Stadium on Saturday, said he’s leaving it up to university presidents to hold coaches accountable. After all, it was the presidents who first requested a tougher policy, Waters said.

“This is not a commissioner decision. This is not an athletic director decision. This is a presidential decision,” he said. “I don’t know how you guys work, but if my boss says do something, I’ve got two choices. The one that works best is to do it.”

Waters said talks to improve scheduling have been in the works for some time now. But it wasn’t until North Texas, the only Sun Belt member to make the 2010 NCAA tournament, received a No. 15 seed and a first-round exit that the league acted.

“We’ve gone several years saying, ‘Look, this is the way we improve it,'” he said. “Now it’s time to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’

“There was something that had to be done,” he added. “If you’re happy being 23rd out of 31 — if you’re happy with your team being 200th, then you probably need to be somewhere else doing something else.”

Now speculation circles around difficulty in Sun Belt schools scheduling home games under the new rule. Waters said it might be one of the tougher jobs coaches do, but it had to be done.

“The worst-case scenario is to play bad people and lose,” Waters said. “People who have got connections and people who are networked are going to be able to get games.”

Waters hasn’t heard radio call

Florida Atlantic radio announcer Dave Lamont questioned, “Where is Wright Waters!” after Owls quarterback Jeff Van Camp was hit helmet-to-helmet in last weekend’s FAU-Arkansas State tilt. A flag wasn’t thrown on the play.

Waters said he’s yet to hear Lamont’s call, but that Lamont called on Monday to apologize for the matter.

“He said that he just lost it and was emotionally involved in the game,” Waters said.

Waters said Lamont would begin this week’s broadcast with an on-air apology.