DENVER - WAC Commissioner Karl Benson has announced that he is leaving the conference effective April 1 to serve as commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, ending nearly 18 years with the WAC. Benson will replace Wright Waters who announced his retirement last fall.
Benson was hired as the WAC's fifth commissioner in April, 1994, to replace the retiring Joe Kearney. Previously, he had been commissioner of the Mid-American Conference from 1990-94. During his tenure, Benson spearheaded conference expansion three times, increased television coverage of its football and basketball teams, and saw three of its teams appear in BCS bowl games.
"It has been a privilege to serve the WAC and to share in the many successes of our member schools and student-athletes over the past 18 years," said Benson. "I am confident that the 10-member WAC that will be in place on July 1, 2012 will provide the foundation that will allow the WAC to continue as one of the outstanding athletic conferences in the country."
New Mexico State President and WAC Chair Barbara Couture said, "The Board thanks him for his years of service to the conference and wishes him well in this position with the Sun Belt."
Couture also said a committee will be formed in the next few weeks to begin the process of finding Benson's replacement.
"We will be looking for leadership that will continue to positively position the WAC as one of the nation's top conferences both academically and athletically in this time of conference realignment," said Couture.