The announcement was made by the chair of the WAC Board of Directors and Utah State University President Stan Albrecht and WAC Commissioner Karl Benson after the Board unanimously voted to issue the invitations earlier this week.
"The Board of Directors is extremely dedicated to the long-term stability and growth of the Western Athletic Conference,” said Albrecht. “The University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas State University and the University of Denver are three very strong institutions, both in their commitment to building athletic excellence and in their commitment to academics. We believe that all three will help us in our quest to make the WAC one of the outstanding athletic conferences in the country."
“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 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 schools are currently members of the Southland Conference and will be making the move up from the Football Championship Subdivison (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2012. Denver becomes the first full member in WAC history to join the league without a football program. The additions mean that for the 2012-13 season, the WAC will consist of nine full-time members, eight of which will play football.
Benson added that the WAC will continue to explore the possibility of adding additional members to the league.
Texas State, founded in 1899, has an enrollment of 32,586 and is located in San Marcos, Texas, 50 miles northeast of San Antonio. TXST sponsors 16 men’s and women’s sports and plays its home basketball games in Strahan Coliseum (7,200) and its home football games in Bobcat Stadium, which will undergo an expansion project next May to increase its seating capacity from 16,000 currently to nearly 30,000 for the 2012 season.
“Three years ago, an Athletic Strategic Planning Committee recommended that we begin the journey toward FBS football, saying we should reach this goal within five years of Fall 2008,” said Texas State president Denise Trauth. “ We are very excited to have reached this important goal, and look forward to being a part of the WAC.
“However, none of this would have been possible without support from our students, our Board of Regents, and our donors.”
“This is a great day for Bobcat Athletics,” added Texas State athletic director Larry Teis. “We want to thank the current Southland Conference members for their friendships and competitive rivalries. We have been a proud participant in the SLC since 1987, but at the same time, we are looking forward to an exciting future as a new member of the Western Athletic Conference.”
Texas State’s athletic heritage includes six national championships and 51 Southland Conference titles and 27 SLC Tournament championships since the Bobcats joined the league in 1987. The Bobcats have won five SLC Commissioner’s Cups as the top program in the league, and 33 SLC titles since 2000.
Among the SLC championships are two football titles in 2005 and 2008, and Texas State advanced to the NCAA FCS Playoffs both years, reaching the semifinals in 2005.
In addition, during the last three years, Texas State’s volleyball team has averaged 22 wins, won a SLC championship and made two NCAA appearances. The Bobcats won three SLC softball championships, while Texas State’s baseball team won SLC titles each of the last two years, women’s soccer won SLC championships in 2008 and 2009, and women’s golf won conference championships during 2008 and 2010.
The baseball and softball teams played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, while women’s soccer made an NCAA appearance in 2008 and women’s golf participated in the 2008 and 2010 NCAA Tournaments.
UTSA, founded in 1969, has an enrollment of more than 30,000 students on its three campuses (Main, Downtown and Institute of Texan Cultures). The University has grown quickly in its relatively short history and it has plans for $265 million in construction over the next three years. The Roadrunners have won 48 Southland Conference Championships since joining the league in 1991-92 and they won the 2007-08 Commissioner’s Cup as the top overall athletics department. The newly-created football program will play its games in the 65,000-seat Alamodome, while the basketball and volleyball teams play in the Convocation Center (4,080).
Denver, currently a member of the Sun Belt Conference, is a private institution with an enrollment of 11,644 and is located nine miles northwest of the WAC’s headquarters. The Pioneers sponsor 17 sports and has won 28 national championships in their history. The men’s and women’s basketball teams play in the 7,200-seat Magness Arena, part of the Daniel L. Ritchie Center. Last year’s men’s basketball team won 19 games, its third straight year of improving its number of wins.