The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) will reinstate football at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level in 2022, the conference announced on Thursday.
“I cannot overstate my level of excitement in making this expansion announcement,” said Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Jeff Hurd, “The opportunity to bring five quality institutions into the conference, to significantly strengthen the WAC’s national basketball brand and other championship sport profiles, and to bring football back under the WAC umbrella is one that made sense.
“The end result could not have been accomplished without the collaboration and shared visions of the WAC’s Board of Directors and the Presidents of the incoming institutions. It not only stabilizes the conference for the future; it also positions it for significant growth and success.”
Five schools are moving to the WAC from other conferences. Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin State will move from the Southland Conference, while Southern Utah will enter from the Big Sky Conference.
The four Southland schools are “…petitioning the WAC Board of Directors for entry into the conference beginning on July 1, 2021.” If successful, it’s not clear whether these four schools will play in the Southland this fall or compete as FCS Independents for one season.
Two other schools, Dixie State and Tarleton State, will also join the WAC football lineup in 2022. Both schools are current members of the WAC in other sports, but their football programs are both Independents. Both schools will be playing their first season at the FCS level this spring.
The WAC is also anticipating that “…at least one more football-playing member will be added, but a timetable has not yet been established.”
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), also a member of the WAC, has submitted a letter of intent to start a football program within five years, according to TexasFootball.com. The report states that UTRGV is “targeting the 2023 season” but has “committed to begin the program by 2024.”