PROVO — Many wonder if BYU's partnership with the West Coast Athletic Conference for non-football sports is a short-term venture.

While BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told reporters on Tuesday BYU wasn't looking at it as a stepping-stone, he didn't directly address terms of the contract on whether there is an out-clause to allow BYU to join a BCS conference like the Big 12 if such a call came.

"We don't see this (agreement with the WCC) as a stepping stone or a launching pad," said Holmoe.

In a memorandum of understanding with the WAC for a similar arrangement and partnership for non-football sports — one that imploded a week ago — there was a clause for BYU to exit if a BCS conference extended an invitation.

WCC conference commissioner Jamie Zaninovich was very direct when asked if there was a BYU exit clause. "We will not comment on the contents of our contracts."

Zaninovich also refused to answer if the vote by WCC's board of directors (presidents) was unanimous or a majority vote.

"We won't discuss how our votes go," he said.

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The WCC's eight schools are located in western cities less than two-hours flight time from Salt Lake City. Holmoe said 58 percent of BYU alumni reside in the WCC's four-state footprint of California, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

Zaninovich said BYU, which will lose more than two million dollars a year in NCAA basketball tournament units earned as a member of the MWC, will be a full partner with the WCC and will automatically start cashing a check after membership in 2011 with the WCC's units earned from post-season play.

The WCC has two programs — Gonzaga and St. Mary's — which have been to the Sweet 16 in the last two years.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com