Sam Houston State officially joins the WAC
HOUSTON – Sam Houston State University is officially part of the Western Sports Conference.
The Bearkats are leaving the Southland Conference to join the WAC, along with the other schools SLC Lamar, Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin.
WAC currently does not have an FCS football conference, but the plan is to have one next year and eventually move up to the FBS level.
Sam Houston State Athletic Director Bobby Williams says this is a big step for the future of Bearkat athletics and will help elevate the program across all sports.
The WAC is a traditional powerhouse for mid-major basketball.
Here’s the official WAC news post:
Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Jeff Hurd today announced that membership invitations sent by the conference board to five universities have been accepted effective July 1, 2022.
Hurd also announced the WAC’s intention to reestablish football at the Football Championship subdivision level starting in the 2022 season.
Four of the institutions – Abilene Christian University, Lamar University, Sam Houston State University, and Stephen F. Austin State University – are located in Texas and are currently members of the Southland Conference. The fifth, Southern Utah University, is a member of the Big Sky Conference.
The additions will create a 13-team conference that will be split into two divisions for team sports other than football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. One division will include Texas-based institutions, including current members of the WAC, Tarleton State University, and the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley. The other division will include southern Utah with Dixie State University, New Mexico State University, Grand Canyon University, California Baptist University, Seattle University, and Utah Valley University.
“I cannot overstate my level of enthusiasm in making this expansion announcement,” said Hurd, “The opportunity to involve five quality institutions in the conference, greatly strengthen the national basketball brand of the WAC and other championship sport profiles, and bringing football back under the WAC umbrella makes sense. ”
“The end result could not have been achieved without the collaboration and shared visions of the WAC Board of Directors and the presidents of the new institutions. This not only stabilizes the conference for the future; it also positions it for significant growth and success.
The addition of football will bring the number of sports in which the WAC will sponsor championships to 20 (10 men and 10 women). Divisional play will only be held for baseball, softball, volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer with championship tournaments at the end of each of the conference seasons.
Men’s and women’s basketball will feature both division and crossover games, with the number of conference games to be played yet to be determined. The conference tournament will remain in Las Vegas.
The new members, along with Dixie State and Tarleton, will give the WAC seven full-time members who play or are transitioning to the Championship subdivision of football. It is expected that at least one more football player will be added, but no timetable has yet been established.
The WAC previously sponsored football in the Football Bowl subdivision from 1962 to 2012. Seven Pro Football Hall of Famers played in the WAC, and the conference has 43 NFL first-round picks. “