WAC sues UNR, Fresno State

The Western Athletic Conference is suing the University of Nevada, Reno and Fresno State to keep the athletic programs in the WAC through the 2011-2012 school year.

UNR and Fresno State announced plans to move to the Mountain West Conference in August, but WAC commissioner Karl Benson said that “significant” damages would be incurred if both Reno and Fresno State left the conference.

Benson told reporters that the departure of the teams would damage the ability of the conference to schedule games in various sports and to arrange TV contracts.

The conference also expects both universities to make a $5 million exit payment. Benson said the exit payment is not part of the lawsuit and is a separate issue.

UNR joined the WAC in 2000 and Fresno State joined in 1992.

If UNR does move to the MWC, it will be the first time since the 1990s that the Rebels and the Wolf Pack are in the same athletic conference.