Denver, UTSA and Texas State will join the Western Athletic Conference July 1, 2012, the league announced Thursday.
UTSA and Texas State currently are members of the Southland Conference and Denver is affiliated with the Sun Belt.
“The addition of these three schools clearly sends a message that the WAC and its member schools are prepared to move forward to build a new WAC,” said Commissioner Karl Benson. “And as the WAC prepares to begin its next 50 years as an athletic conference, I am confident that these three new members, along with the six other WAC schools, will continue to compete at the highest level of the NCAA.”
The two Texas institutions, current members of the Football Championship Subdivision, will make the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision when they join the WAC. Denver does not sponsor football, making it the first non-football institution to join the league.
In 2012-13, the WAC will have nine members, eight with football teams. Benson said the conference will continue to consider additional members.
Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett wished his departing members well.
“The Southland Conference, under the direction of its presidential board of directors, is already planning for the future and will take the necessary steps in due course to ensure that conference members will continue to have opportunities for competitive success while fostering an environment that encourages academic achievement by student-athletes,” Burnett said in a statement. “For almost a half century, the Southland has handled membership transition in a fair and thoughtful manner to enhance the league. We are confident that will be the case again.”
Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters praised Denver for its success athletically and academically within the league. Waters said he doesn’t anticipate any expansion within the Sun Belt, other than the addition of South Alabama’s football team.
“The leadership within the Sun Belt Conference will meet to discuss scheduling and other issues involving DU’s departure such as divisional alignment and championship schedules,” he said. “I fully expect our institutional athletic department staffs to work well together to ensure the issues are addressed promptly and properly.”