The Western Athletic Conference is bringing back football.
The WAC announced Thursday that five new universities will join the conference, effective July 1, 2022. The addition of Abilene Christian University, Lamar University, Sam Houston State University, Stephen F. Austin State University and Southern Utah University will allow the WAC to reinstate football in the Football Championship Subdivision.
"I cannot overstate my level of excitement in making this expansion announcement," WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd said. "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.
“It not only stabilizes the conference for the future; it also positions it for significant growth and success."
Football will be the 20th sport in which the WAC sponsors a championship. All new members have football teams, while Dixie State and Tarleton also compete in the FCS. Texas Football reported Thursday that Rio Grande Valley has submitted a letter of intent to begin an FCS football program within the next five years. The email obtained by Texas Football said that Rio Grande Valley is aiming to begin a program for the 2023 season, but has committed to doing so by 2024.
Once all 13 teams are in the conference, the WAC plans to divide into two divisions for every team sport except football and basketball. One division would include Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin State, Tarleton State and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The other division will include Southern Utah, Dixie State, New Mexico State, Grand Canyon, California Baptist, Seattle and Utah Valley.