Western Athletic Conference

Last updated
Western Athletic Conference
Western Athletic Conference logo.svg
EstablishedJuly 27, 1962 (1962-07-27)
Association NCAA
Division Division I
Subdivisionnon-football
Members9
Sports fielded
  • 19
    • men's: 9
    • women's: 10
Region Western United States
West South Central United States
Midwestern United States
Headquarters Englewood, Colorado
CommissionerJeff Hurd (since 2012)
Website www.wacsports.com
Locations
Map - Western Athletic Conference.svg

The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) is an American collegiate athletic conference formed on July 27, 1962 and affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. The WAC covers a broad expanse of the western United States, with member institutions located in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington, along with the "non-western" states of Missouri and Illinois (traditionally associated with the Midwest), as well as Texas (traditionally associated with the Southwest).

National Collegiate Athletic Association Non-profit organization that regulates many American college athletes and programs

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization which regulates student athletes from 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

NCAA Division I highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association

NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.

Western United States Region in the United States

The Western United States is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.

Contents

Due to most of the conference's football-playing members leaving the WAC for other affiliations, the conference discontinued football as a sponsored sport after the 2012–13 season and left the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A). The WAC thus became the first Division I conference to drop football since the Big West in 2000. The WAC then added men's soccer and became one of the NCAA's eleven Division I non-football conferences. [1]

College football collegiate rules version of American/Canadian football, played by student-athletes of American/Canadian colleges and universities

College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.

Big West Conference U.S. college sports conference

The Big West Conference (BWC) is an American collegiate athletic conference whose member institutions participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. The conference was originally formed in 1969 as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA) and in 1988 was renamed the Big West Conference. The conference stopped sponsoring college football after the 2000 season.

Members

Current members

The following institutions are the full members of the Western Athletic Conference.

InstitutionLocationFoundedTypeEnrollmentEndowmentNicknameColorsJoinedWAC
Titles [2]
California Baptist University Riverside, California 1950Private9,157$41,000,000 Lancers          20181
California State University, Bakersfield Bakersfield, California 1965Public8,720$18,000,000 Roadrunners          20137
Chicago State University Chicago, Illinois 1867Public3,578$3,000,000 Cougars          20130
Grand Canyon University Phoenix, Arizona 1949Private19,500N/A Antelopes               201330
University of Missouri–Kansas City Kansas City, Missouri 1933Public16,160$195,000,000 Kangaroos          201317
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico 1888Public18,497$214,000,000 Aggies          200568
Seattle University Seattle, Washington 1891Private7,755$211,000,000 Redhawks          201220
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, Texas 1927Public29,045$77,500,000 Vaqueros               20135
Utah Valley University Orem, Utah 1941Public33,211$48,000,000 Wolverines          201315
Notes
  1. With the elimination of football as a WAC-sponsored sport, New Mexico State's football program is currently an FBS Independent member.
  2. The founding date for UTRGV listed in this table reflects that of Edinburg College, the institution that eventually became UTRGV.
  3. Chicago State's continued membership is problematic. Considering the school's current strained financial situation and the needs of the athletic program, in April 2016, the University Budget Committee recommended that the Athletic Department "... study the benefits of being Division I or another division." [3]
  4. Championships title totals are through Spring 2016.
  5. California State University, Bakersfield will be leaving for the Big West Conference in 2020. [4] [5]

Future member

The WAC has announced one school as a future member: [6]

InstitutionLocationFoundedTypeEnrollmentEndowmentNicknameColorsJoiningPrevious
conference
Dixie State University St. George, Utah 1911Public9,673$15,300,000 Trailblazers               2020 RMAC (NCAA D-II)

Affiliate members

The following 10 schools field programs in the WAC for sports not sponsored by their primary conferences.

InstitutionLocationFoundedTypeEnrollmentNicknamePrimary ConferenceWAC Sport(s)JoinedWAC
Titles [2]
Former
Full
Member
United States Air Force Academy
(Air Force)
Colorado Springs,
Colorado
1955Federal4,413 Falcons Mountain West men's soccer,
men's swimming
2013–14m.soc
2013–14m.sw
11Green check.svg
California State University, Sacramento
(Sacramento State)
Sacramento,
California
1947Public27,972 Hornets Big Sky baseball2005–067Red x.svg
Houston Baptist University Houston 1960Private2,567 Huskies Southland men's soccer2013–140Red x.svg
University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho 1889Public12,312 Vandals Big Sky women's swimming2014–1517Green check.svg
University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio 1881Private8,455 Cardinals Southland men's soccer2014–150Red x.svg
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
(UNLV)
Paradise,
Nevada
1957Public29,069 Rebels Mountain West men's soccer,
men's swimming
2013–14m.soc
2013–14m.sw
7Green check.svg
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff,
Arizona
1899Public18,824 Lumberjacks Big Sky women's swimming2004–056Red x.svg
University of Northern Colorado Greeley,
Colorado
1889Public10,097 Bears Big Sky baseball,
women's swimming
2013–14bs.
2012–13w.sw
1Red x.svg
San Jose State University San Jose,
California
1857Public30,448 Spartans Mountain West men's soccer2013–1418Green check.svg
University of Wyoming Laramie,
Wyoming
1886Public12,496 Cowboys Mountain West men's swimming2013–1425Green check.svg
Notes
  1. Four schools became affiliate members in men's soccer in July 2013; the WAC announced on January 9, 2013 that it would reinstate the sport, which it had sponsored from 1996 to 1999. Because the conference dropped football, it was necessary to add a new men's team sport to maintain its Division I status. It chose men's soccer because three of the confirmed members for 2013–14 (CSU Bakersfield, Grand Canyon, and Seattle) already sponsored the sport, and filled out its soccer ranks by attracting four schools from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Three of these schools have past WAC connections—former full members Air Force, UNLV and San Jose State. [7] After the WAC announced it would add men's soccer, the conference gained an eighth soccer school for the 2013 season when UMKC, which already sponsored the sport, joined. In addition, Utah Valley added the sport for 2014, UT-Pan American (now known as UT Rio Grande Valley) added it for 2015, and Chicago State is slated to add it for 2016.
  2. Four schools (three of which are former WAC full members: Air Force, UNLV and Wyoming; and North Dakota) became affiliate members in men's swimming and diving in July 2013; the WAC announced on May 16, 2013 that it would reinstate the sport, which it had sponsored from 1962 to 2000. [8]
  3. Northern Colorado joined the WAC for baseball for the 2014 season (2013–14 academic year). [9]
  4. Sacramento State was formerly an associate member of the WAC in baseball from 1992–93 to 1995–96.
  5. Championships title totals are through Fall 2014.

Former full members

The WAC has 27 former full members.

InstitutionNicknameLocationFoundedTypeEnrollmentJoinedLeftWAC
Titles [2]
Current Primary
Conference
United States Air Force Academy
(Air Force)
Falcons Colorado Springs, Colorado 1954Federal4,4131980199911 Mountain West
University of Arizona Wildcats Tucson, Arizona 1885Public39,2361962197818 Pac-12
Arizona State University Sun Devils Tempe, Arizona 1885Public59,7941962197829 Pac-12
Boise State University Broncos Boise, Idaho 1932Public22,6782001201133 Mountain West
Brigham Young University
(BYU)
Cougars Provo, Utah 1875Private34,13019621999193 WCC
Division I FBS Independent
California State University, Fresno
(Fresno State)
Bulldogs Fresno, California 1911Public22,5651992201278 Mountain West
Colorado State University Rams Fort Collins, Colorado 1870Public28,4171968199915 Mountain West
University of Denver Pioneers Denver 1864Private11,476201220137 Summit
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Rainbow Warriors & Rainbow Wahine Honolulu 1907Public20,4351979201262 Big West
Mountain West (football only)
University of Idaho Vandals Moscow, Idaho 1889Public12,3122005201417 Big Sky
Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs (men's)
Lady Techsters (women's)
Ruston, Louisiana 1894Public11,5812001201330 C-USA
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
(UNLV)
Rebels Paradise, Nevada 1957Public28,203199619997 Mountain West
University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack Reno, Nevada 1874Public18,2272000201222 Mountain West
University of New Mexico Lobos Albuquerque, New Mexico 1889Public35,2111962199946 Mountain West
Rice University Owls Houston 1912Private6,0821996200529 C-USA
San Diego State University Aztecs San Diego 1897Public28,7891978199920 Mountain West
San Jose State University Spartans San Jose, California 1857Public30,4481996201318 Mountain West
Southern Methodist University
(SMU)
Mustangs University Park, Texas 1911Private12,0001996200544 The American
Texas Christian University
(TCU)
Horned Frogs Fort Worth, Texas 1873Private9,7251996200118 Big 12
University of Texas at Arlington Mavericks Arlington, Texas 1895Public33,439201220132 Sun Belt
University of Texas at El Paso
(UTEP)
Miners El Paso, Texas 1914Public21,0111968200558 C-USA
University of Texas at San Antonio
(UTSA)
Roadrunners San Antonio 1969Public30,474201220132 C-USA
Texas State University Bobcats San Marcos, Texas 1899Public34,229201220133 Sun Belt
University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane Tulsa, Oklahoma 1894Private4,3521996200514 The American
University of Utah Utes Salt Lake City 1850Public32,3881962199968 Pac-12
Utah State University Aggies Logan, Utah 1888Public28,7962005201332 Mountain West
University of Wyoming Cowboys & Cowgirls Laramie, Wyoming 1866Public12,4961962199925 Mountain West

Former affiliate members

InstitutionLocationFoundedTypeEnrollmentNicknamePrimary ConferenceWAC Sport(s)JoinedLeft
Boise State University Boise, Idaho 1932Public22,678 Broncos Mountain West [fa 1] gymnastics1990–91,
2012–13
1992–93,
2012–13
California Polytechnic State University
(Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)
San Luis Obispo,
California
1901Public20,186 Mustangs Big West baseball1994–951995–96
California State University, Bakersfield
(Cal State Bakersfield)
Bakersfield,
California
1965Public8,720 Roadrunners WACbaseball,
women's
swimming
2012–13bs.
2012–13w.sm.
2012–13bs.
2012–13w.sm.
California State University, Fullerton
(Cal State Fullerton)
Fullerton,
California
1959Public38,128 Titans Big West [fa 2] gymnastics2005–062010–11
California State University, Northridge
(Cal State Northridge)
Northridge,
California
1958Public38,310 Matadors Big Sky baseball1992–931995–96
California State University, Sacramento
(Sacramento State)
Sacramento,
California
1947Public27,972 Hornets Big Sky [fa 3] gymnastics2005–062012–13
Dallas Baptist University Dallas 1898Private5,422 Patriots Heartland
(NCAA Division II) [fa 4] [fa 5]
baseball2012–132012–13
University of Denver Denver 1864Private11,476 Pioneers Summit [fa 6] gymnastics2011–122011–12
Drury University Springfield,
Missouri
1873Private5,474 Panthers Great Lakes Valley
(NCAA Division II)
men's soccer1999–20001999–2000
Grand Canyon University Phoenix,
Arizona
1949Private,
For-profit
17,650 Antelopes WACbaseball1994–951997–98
University of Hawaii at Hilo
(Hawaii–Hilo)
Hilo,
Hawaii
1901Public20,186 Vulcans Pacific West
(NCAA Division II)
baseball1999–20002000–01
University of North Dakota Grand Forks,
North Dakota
1883Public15,250 Fighting Hawks Summit [fa 7] baseball,
men's swimming,
women's swimming
2013–14bs.
2013–14m.sm.
2011–12w.sm.
2015–16bs.
2016–17m.sm.
2016–17w.sm.
University of San Diego San Diego 1949Private8,105 Toreros West Coast [fa 8] women's
swimming
2004–052009–10
Southern Utah University Cedar City,
Utah
1897Public8,297 Thunderbirds Big Sky [fa 1] gymnastics1990–91,
2005–06
1992–93,
2012–13
  1. 1 2 Neither the Big Sky Conference nor the MW sponsors women's gymnastics. Boise State and Southern Utah house that sport in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference.
  2. Cal State Fullerton no longer sponsors women's gymnastics.
  3. The Big Sky Conference does not sponsor women's gymnastics. Sacramento State houses that sport in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
  4. The Heartland Conference will disband at the end of the 2018–19 school year. Dallas Baptist is one of seven Heartland members (out of nine) that will join the D-II Lone Star Conference.
  5. The Dallas Baptist baseball team currently competes as a single-sport member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
  6. The Summit League does not sponsor women's gymnastics. Denver houses that sport in the Big 12 Conference.
  7. North Dakota no longer sponsors any of the sports it housed in the WAC.
  8. The WCC does not sponsor women's swimming and diving. San Diego houses that sport in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

Membership timeline

Dixie State UniversityCalifornia Baptist UniversityHouston Baptist UniversityUtah Valley UniversityUniversity of Missouri–Kansas CityUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyChicago State UniversityUniversity of Northern ColoradoBig West ConferenceCalifornia State University, BakersfieldDallas Baptist UniversitySeattle UniversitySun Belt ConferenceUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonSun Belt ConferenceTexas State UniversityConference USAUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSummit LeagueUniversity of DenverUniversity of North DakotaCalifornia State University, FullertonNew Mexico StateBig Sky ConferenceUniversity of IdahoMountain West ConferenceUtah State UniversityUniversity of San DiegoNorthern Arizona UniversityConference USALouisiana Tech UniversityMountain West ConferenceUniversity of Nevada, RenoUniversity of Hawaii at HiloDrury UniversityMountain West ConferenceSan Jose State UniversityAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USAUniversity of TulsaAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USASouthern Methodist UniversityConference USARice UniversityBig 12 ConferenceMountain West ConferenceConference USATexas Christian UniversityMountain West ConferenceUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasGrand Canyon UniversityCalifornia Polytechnic State UniversityCalifornia State University, NorthridgeBig Sky ConferenceCalifornia State University, SacramentoMountain West ConferenceCalifornia State University, FresnoBig Sky ConferenceNCAA Division I FCS independent schoolsSouthern Utah UniversityMountain West ConferenceBoise State UniversityBig West ConferenceBoise State UniversityMountain West ConferenceUnited States Air Force AcademyBig West ConferenceUniversity of Hawaiʻi at MānoaMountain West ConferenceSan Diego State UniversityConference USAUniversity of Texas at El PasoMountain West ConferenceColorado State UniversityMountain West ConferenceUniversity of WyomingPac-12 ConferenceMountain West ConferenceUniversity of UtahMountain West ConferenceUniversity of New MexicoWest Coast ConferenceMountain West ConferenceBrigham Young UniversityPac-12 ConferencePac-12 ConferenceArizona State UniversityPac-12 ConferencePac-12 ConferenceUniversity of ArizonaWestern Athletic Conference

Full membersFull members (non-football)Other conferenceOther conferenceAssociate Member

History

Formation

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Arizona
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Arizona State
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BYU
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New Mexico
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Utah
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Wyoming
Locations of WAC founding schools

The WAC formed out of a series of talks between Brigham Young University athletic director Eddie Kimball and other university administrators from 1958 to 1961 to form a new athletic conference that would better fit the needs and situations of certain universities which were at the time members of the Border, Skyline, and Pacific Coast Conferences. Potential member universities who were represented at the meetings included BYU, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Arizona State, and Wyoming. While the three Washington and Oregon schools elected to stay in a revamped Pac-8 Conference that replaced the scandal-plagued PCC, the remaining six schools formed the WAC. The Border and Skyline conferences, having each lost three of their stronger members, dissolved at the end of the 1961–62 season. The charter members of the WAC were Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. New Mexico State and Utah State applied for charter membership and were turned down; they would eventually become WAC members 43 years later.

Brigham Young University private research university located in Provo, Utah, United States

Brigham Young University is a private, non-profit research university in Provo, Utah, United States owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and run under the auspices of its Church Educational System. The university is classified among "Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity" with "more selective, lower transfer-in" admissions. The university's primary emphasis is on undergraduate education in 179 majors, but it also has 62 master's and 26 doctoral degree programs. The university also administers two satellite campuses, one in Jerusalem and one in Salt Lake City, while its parent organization, the Church Educational System (CES), sponsors sister schools in Hawaii and Idaho.

Edwin Roberts Kimball was an American football player, coach of football and basketball, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head coach at Brigham Young University (BYU) from 1937 to 1941 and again from 1946 to 1948, compiling a record of 34–32–8. Kimball was also the head basketball coach at BYU from 1935 to 1936 and again from 1938 to 1941, tallying a mark of 59–38. He served as the school's athletic director from 1937 to 1963.

Border Conference

The Border Conference, officially known as the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association, was an NCAA-affiliated college athletic conference founded in 1931 that disbanded following the 1961–62 season. Centered in the southwestern United States, the conference included nine member institutions located in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Success and first expansion

The conference proved to be an almost perfect fit for the six schools from both a competitive and financial standpoint. Arizona and Arizona State, in particular, experienced success in baseball with Arizona garnering the 1963 College World Series (CWS) runner-up trophy and ASU winning the CWS in 1965, 1967, and 1969. Colorado State and Texas-El Paso (UTEP), at that time just renamed from Texas Western College, were accepted in September 1967 (joined in July 1968) to bring membership up to eight. [10] [11]

Arizona Wildcats baseball baseball team of the University of Arizona

The Arizona Wildcats baseball team is the intercollegiate men's baseball program representing the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, United States. They compete in the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12) of NCAA Division I. The baseball team had its first season in 1904. The baseball team has captured four national championship titles in 1976, 1980, 1986 and 2012, with the first three coached by Jerry Kindall and the most recent by Andy Lopez. The team has appeared in the NCAA National Championship title series eight times. They have appeared in 34 baseball tournaments in their rich history. Arizona is ranked seventh in all-time regular season game wins with 2,347.

College World Series College baseball tournament conducted by the NCAA

The College World Series (CWS) is an annual June baseball tournament held in Omaha, Nebraska. The CWS is the culmination of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Baseball Championship tournament—featuring 64 teams in the first round—which determines the NCAA Division I college baseball champion. The eight participating teams are split into two, four-team, double-elimination brackets, with the winners of each bracket playing in a best-of-three championship series.

Arizona State Sun Devils baseball

The Arizona State Sun Devils baseball program at the Arizona State University (ASU) is part of the Pac-12 Conference. Since it became a member of the Pac-12, it had the highest winning percentage, at .681, of all schools that participate in Division I baseball within the conference. ASU's NCAA leading 54 consecutive 30 win seasons was the longest streak in the nation. The Sun Devils' only losing seasons occurred in 1963, 2017,& 2018 The Sun Devils had been nationally ranked during at least a part of every season of their 58-year history until 2017. The Sun Devils have finished 27 times in the Top 10, 22 times in the Top 5, and 5 times as the No. 1 team in the nation.

With massive growth in the state of Arizona, the balance of WAC play in the 1970s became increasingly skewed in favor of the Arizona schools, who won or tied for all but two WAC football titles from 1969 onward. In the summer of 1978, the two schools left the WAC for the Pac-8, which became the Pac-10, and were replaced in the WAC by San Diego State and, one year later, Hawaii. The WAC further expanded by adding Air Force in the summer of 1980. A college football national championship won by Brigham Young in 1984 added to the WAC's reputation as one of the best NCAA Division I conferences. This nine-team line-up of the WAC defined the conference for nearly 15 years.

Second wave of expansion

Fresno State expanded its athletic program in the early 1990s and was granted membership in 1992 as the nationwide trend against major college programs independent of conferences accelerated. The WAC merged with the High Country Athletic Conference, a parallel organization to the WAC for women's athletics, in 1990 to unify both men's and women's athletics under one administrative structure.

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⇙ Hawaii
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Fresno State
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San Diego State
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San Jose State
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UNLV
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Air Force
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Colorado State
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Wyoming
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BYU
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New Mexico
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Utah
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UTEP
Yellow pog.svg
Tulsa
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TCU
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SMU
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Rice
WAC member locations during the four-pod system (1996–1998)

In 1996, the WAC expanded again, adding six schools to its ranks for a total of sixteen. Rice, TCU, and SMU joined the league from the Southwest Conference, which had disbanded. Big West Conference members San Jose State and UNLV were also admitted, as well as Tulsa from the Missouri Valley Conference. [12] Also, two WAC members for men's sports at the time, Air Force and Hawaiʻi, brought their women's sports into the WAC. With the expansion, the WAC was divided into two divisions, the Mountain and the Pacific.

To help in organizing schedules and travel for the far-flung league, the members were divided into four quadrants of four teams each, as follows: [12]

Quadrant 1Quadrant 2Quadrant 3Quadrant 4
HawaiʻiUNLVBYUTulsa
Fresno StateAir ForceUtahTCU
San Diego StateColorado StateNew MexicoSMU
San Jose StateWyomingUTEPRice

Quadrant one was always part of the Pacific Division, and quadrant four was always part of the Mountain Division. Quadrant two was part of the Pacific Division for 1996 and 1997 before switching to the Mountain Division in 1998, while the reverse was true for quadrant three. The scheduled fourth year of the alignment was abandoned after eight schools left to form the Mountain West Conference.[ citation needed ]

The division champions in football met from 1996 to 1998 in the WAC Championship Game, held at Sam Boyd Stadium (also known as the Silver Bowl) in the Las Vegas Valley.

Turbulence at the turn of the millennium

Increasingly, most of the older, pre-1996 members —particularly Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Utah, and Wyoming— felt chagrin at this new arrangement. Additional concerns centered around finances, as the expanded league stretched approximately 3,900 miles (6,300 km) from Hawaiʻi to Oklahoma and covered nine states and four time zones. With such a far-flung league, travel costs became a concern. The presidents of Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Utah, and Wyoming met in 1998 at Denver International Airport and agreed to split off to form a new league. The breakaway group invited old-line WAC schools New Mexico and San Diego State and newcomer UNLV to join them in the new Mountain West Conference, which began competition in 1999. [12]

A USA Today article summed up the reasons behind the split. "With Hawaii and the Texas schools separated by about 3,900 miles and four time zones, travel costs were a tremendous burden for WAC teams. The costs, coupled with lagging revenue and a proposed realignment that would have separated rivals such as Colorado State and Air Force, created unrest among the eight defecting schools." [13] [14]

BYU and Utah would later leave the MWC for the West Coast Conference and Pac-12 Conference, respectively; BYU football is an FBS independent.

WAC in the 2000s

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Fresno State
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San Jose State
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Boise State
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Louisiana Tech
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Idaho
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New Mexico State
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Utah State
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Nevada
Locations of WAC full members from 2005 through 2011

In 2000, the University of Nevada, Reno (Nevada) of the Big West joined as part of its plan to upgrade its athletic program.

TCU left for Conference USA in 2001 (it would later leave C-USA to become the ninth member of the Mountain West in 2005, and joined the Big 12 in 2012).

The Big West announced that it would drop football after the 2000 season, but four of its football-playing members (Boise State, Idaho, New Mexico State, and Utah State) were unwilling to drop football. Boise State was invited to join the WAC and promptly departed the Big West, while New Mexico State and Idaho joined the Sun Belt Conference (NMSU as a full member, Idaho as a "football only" member) and Utah State operated as an independent D-IA program. At the same time, Louisiana Tech (LA Tech) ended its independent D-IA status and also accepted an invitation to join the WAC with Boise State.

In 2005, Conference USA sought new members to replenish its ranks after losing members to the Big East, which had lost members to the ACC. Four WAC schools, former SWC schools Rice and SMU, as well as Tulsa and UTEP, joined Conference USA. In response, the WAC added Idaho, New Mexico State, and Utah State – all former Big West schools which left the conference in 2000 along with Boise State when that conference dropped football. The three new schools were all land grant universities, bringing the conference total to five (Nevada and Hawaiʻi).

Membership changes and the elimination of football

The decade of the 2010s began with a series of conference realignment moves that would have trickle-down effects throughout Division I football, and profoundly change the membership of the WAC. Boise State decided to move to the Mountain West Conference (MW) for the 2011–12 season, [15] and to replace departing BYU, the MW also recruited WAC members Fresno State and Nevada for 2012–13. [16] [17] WAC commissioner Karl Benson courted several schools to replace those leaving, including the University of Montana, which declined, [18] [19] as well as the University of Denver, University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and Texas State University-San Marcos, which all accepted effective 2012–13. [20]

But the resulting eastward shift of the conference's geographic center led Hawaiʻi to reduce travel expenses by becoming a football-only member of the MW and joining the California-based Big West Conference for all other sports. [21] [22] Further invitations were then issued by the WAC to Seattle University [23] and the University of Texas at Arlington. [24] These changes meant that the conference would have 10 members for 2012–13, [25] seven of which sponsored football, and Benson announced that the WAC planned to add two additional football-playing members to begin competition in 2013. [26] A further boost came when Boise State decided to join the Big East in football, and return to the WAC in most other sports, as of the 2013–14 academic year. [27] So by the end of 2011, the WAC seemed to have weathered the latest round of conference changes, and once again reinvented itself for the future.

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Cal State Bakersfield
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New Mexico State
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Dixie State
Locations of current & future WAC full members: Blue=current Yellow=future

But from this seemingly strong position, early 2012 brought forth a series of moves that shook the conference to its very core, beginning with Utah State and San Jose State accepting offers to join the MW. [28] Four similar announcements followed with UTSA and Louisiana Tech jumping to Conference USA, plus Texas State and UT Arlington heading to the Sun Belt Conference, all as of 2013–14. [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] Boise State also canceled plans to rejoin the WAC, instead opting to place its non-football sports in the Big West Conference, before eventually deciding to simply remain in the MW. [35] [36] These changes left the WAC's viability as a Division I football conference in grave doubt. The two remaining football-playing members, New Mexico State and Idaho, began making plans to compete in future seasons as FBS Independents; [37] [38] they ultimately spent only the 2013 season as independents, rejoining their one-time football home of the Sun Belt as football-only members in 2014. [39]

In order to rebuild, as well as forestall further defections, the conference was forced to add two schools—Utah Valley University and CSU Bakersfield—which were invited in October 2012 to join the WAC in 2013–14, [40] but this did not prevent two more members from leaving. Denver decided to take most of its athletic teams to The Summit League as of the 2013–14 season, [41] shortly after Idaho opted to return all of its non-football sports to the Big Sky Conference in 2014–15. [42] The conference responded over the next two months by adding Grand Canyon University, [43] Chicago State University, [44] and the University of Texas-Pan American. [45] [46] Then, in February 2013, the WAC announced the University of Missouri–Kansas City would join in the summer of 2013 as well. [47] These changes would put the conference's membership at eight members by 2014 with only one, New Mexico State, having been in the WAC just three years earlier. Due to losing the majority of its football-playing members, the WAC would stop sponsoring the sport after the 2012–13 season, thereby becoming a non-football conference. [1]

In 2013, the University of Texas System announced that Texas–Pan American would merge with the University of Texas at Brownsville; the new institution, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), began operation for the 2015–16 school year. UTRGV inherited UTPA's athletic program and WAC membership.

In January 2017, the WAC announced that California Baptist University would transition from NCAA Division II and join the conference in 2018. [48]

In November 2017, Cal State Bakersfield announced they would accept an invitation to the Big West. On January 11, 2019, Dixie State University announced their plans to move to their athletics to Division I, and join the WAC starting in the 2020-21 season.

Commissioners

YearsCommissioners
1962–1968 Paul Brechler
1968–1971 Wiles Hallock
1971–1980 Stan Bates
1980–1994 Joseph Kearney
1994–2012 Karl Benson
2012–presentJeff Hurd

Sports

The Western Athletic Conference currently sponsors championship competition in nine men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports. [49] Nine schools are currently Associate members in four sports.

Teams in Western Athletic Conference competition
SportMen'sWomen's
Baseball
10
-
Basketball
9
9
Cross country
8
9
Golf
8
9
Soccer
12
9
Softball
-
7
Swimming & Diving
7
7
Tennis
6
6
Track and field (indoor)
7
8
Track and field (outdoor)
8
9
Volleyball
-
9

Men's sponsored sports by school

Departing member in red.

School BaseballBasketballCross
Country
GolfSoccerSwimming
& Diving
TennisTrack & Field
(Indoor)
Track & Field
(Outdoor)
Total
WAC Sports
California BaptistGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgRed x.svgRed x.svgGreen check.svg7
Cal State Bakersfield
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg [lower-alpha 1]
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
6
Chicago State
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg [lower-alpha 2]
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
7
Grand Canyon
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
9
UMKC
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
7
New Mexico State
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
5
Seattle
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
9
UTRGV
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
8
Utah Valley
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
7
Totals
8+2 [lower-alpha 3]
9
8
8
7+5 [lower-alpha 4]
4+3 [lower-alpha 5]
6
7
8
65+10
Future Member
Dixie State
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
5
  1. CSUB discontinued men's golf in June, 2017.
  2. Chicago State was expected to add men's soccer by 2014. The school budgeted the sport for the 2016–17 school year. However, the ongoing State of Illinois budgetary crisis and the school's own critical financial problems have set this back once more. With the school's current financial situation and the needs of the athletic program, in April 2016, the University Budget Committee recommended that the Athletic Department "... study the benefits of being Division I or another division." [3]
  3. Affiliates Northern Colorado and Sacramento State.
  4. Affiliates Air Force, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, San Jose State, and UNLV.
  5. Affiliates Air Force, UNLV, and Wyoming.

Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Western Athletic Conference which are played by WAC schools

Departing member in red; future member in gray.

SchoolFootballVolleyballWater PoloWrestling
California BaptistNoNo WWPA No
Cal State BakersfieldNoNoNo Pac-12
Dixie State FCS independent [lower-alpha 1] NoNoNo
Grand CanyonNo MPSF NoNo
New Mexico State FBS independent NoNoNo
Utah ValleyNoNoNo Big 12
  1. Dixie State will become an FCS independent upon joining the WAC. Until that time, it will continue to play Division II football in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Women's sponsored sports by school

Departing member in red.

SchoolBasketballCross
Country
GolfSoccerSoftballSwimming
& Diving
TennisTrack & Field
(Indoor)
Track & Field
(Outdoor)
VolleyballTotal
WAC Sports
California BaptistGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgRed x.svgRed x.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svg8
Cal State Bakersfield
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
9
Chicago State
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
8
Grand Canyon
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
10
UMKC
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
9
New Mexico State
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
10
Seattle
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
10
UTRGV
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
8
Utah Valley
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
8
Totals
9
9
9
9
7
5+2 [lower-alpha 1]
6
8
9
9
80+2
Future Member
Dixie State
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
Red x.svg
Green check.svg
Green check.svg
9
  1. Affiliates Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado.

Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Western Athletic Conference which are played by WAC schools

Departing member in red.

SchoolBeach VolleyballEquestrianRowingWater Polo
California BaptistNoNoNo GCC
Cal State BakersfieldIndependentNoNoNo [lower-alpha 1]
Grand CanyonIndependentNoNoNo
New Mexico StateNoIndependentNoNo
SeattleNoNo WIRA No
  1. CSUB discontinued women's water polo in June, 2017, redistributing its funding to other sports. [50]

Football

The WAC sponsored football from its founding in 1962 through the 2012 season. However, the defection of all but two football-playing schools to other conferences caused the conference to drop sponsorship after fifty-one years. [51]

Men's basketball

TeamFirst
Season
All-Time
Record
All-Time
Win %
NCAA Tournament
Appearances
NCAA Tournament
Record
ArenaHead Coach
New Mexico State 19051329–1018–2.5661810–20 Pan American Center Chris Jans
Seattle 1946978–874.5281110–13 KeyArena Jim Hayford
Grand Canyon 2013103-58.63900–0 GCU Arena Dan Majerle
Utah Valley 2004 [52] 234–194.54700–0 UCCU Center [Mark Madsen]]
UTRGV 1968599-804.42700–0 UTRGV Fieldhouse Lew Hill

WAC tournament

Rivalries

Men's basketball rivalries involving WAC teams include:

TeamsMeetingsRecordSeries LeaderCurrent Streak
New Mexico State New Mexico 20895–113New MexicoNew Mexico State Won 2
New Mexico State UTEP 200102–98New Mexico StateNew Mexico State Won 6

Awards

Women's basketball

TeamFirst
Season
All-Time
Record
All-Time
Win %
NCAA Tournament
Appearances
NCAA Tournament
Record
ArenaHead Coach
New Mexico State 1973437–406.51840–4 Pan American Center Mark Trakh
Seattle 1978.10–1 Connolly Center Joan Bonvicini

WAC tournament

Rivalries

Women's basketball rivalries involving WAC teams include:

TeamsMeetingsRecordSeries LeaderCurrent Streak

Baseball

The WAC has claimed seven NCAA baseball national championships. The most recent WAC national champion is the 2008 Fresno State Bulldogs baseball team.

WAC tournament

Championships

Current champions

Source: [53]

SeasonSportMen's championWomen's champion
Fall 2018Cross countryUtah ValleyCalifornia Baptist
SoccerAir Force (RS)
Grand Canyon (T)
UMKC (RS)
Seattle (T)
VolleyballUTRGV (RS)
New Mexico State (T)
Winter 2018–19Indoor Track & FieldGrand CanyonGrand Canyon
Swimming & DivingGrand CanyonNorthern Arizona
BasketballNew Mexico State (RS & T)New Mexico State (RS & T)
Spring 2019GolfUMKCNew Mexico State
TennisGrand Canyon (RS & T)Grand Canyon (RS)
New Mexico State (T)
SoftballSeattle (RS & T)
Outdoor Track & FieldUtah ValleyGrand Canyon
BaseballGrand Canyon (RS)
Sacramento State (T)

National championships

The following teams have won NCAA national championships while being a member of the WAC:

The WAC has also produced one AP national champion in football:

The following teams won AIAW (and forerunner DGWS) women's national championships while their universities were members of the WAC:

Facilities

Departing member Cal State Bakersfield in pink; future member Dixie State in gray.

SchoolSoccer stadiumCapacityBasketball arenaCapacitySoftball parkCapacityBaseball parkCapacity
Full members
Cal State Bakersfield CSUB Main Soccer Field2,500 Icardo Center /
Rabobank Arena
3,800 / 10,000Roadrunner Softball Complex500 [54] Hardt Field*900
California Baptist CBU Soccer Field N/A CBU Events Center 5,050 [55] John C. Funk Stadium 500 [56] James W. Totman Stadium 800 [56]
Chicago State Kroc Stadium500 Jones Convocation Center 7,000
Non-softball school
Cougar Stadium 1,000 [57]
Dixie State Trailblazer Stadium 10,000 [58] Burns Arena 4,779 [59] Karl Brooks Field N/A Bruce Hurst Field 2,500 [60]
Grand Canyon GCU Stadium 2,800 seats
6,000 cap.
GCU Arena 7,000 [61] GCU Softball Stadium 300 [62] Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark 1,500
UMKC Durwood Soccer Stadium 850 Municipal Auditorium 9,987 [63] Missouri 3&2 Complex350
Non-baseball school
New Mexico State Aggie Soccer Field1,253 Pan American Center 12,482 [64] NMSU Softball Complex1,050 Presley Askew Field 1,000
Seattle Championship Field650 KeyArena 17,072Logan Field at Seattle University Park250 Bannerwood Park 700 [65]
UTRGV UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex [66] 1,555 UTRGV Fieldhouse 2,500 [67]
Non-softball school
UTRGV Baseball Stadium 4,000
Utah Valley Clyde Field1,000 UCCU Center 8,500Wolverine Field500 UCCU Ballpark 5,000
SchoolSoccer stadiumCapacityBaseball parkCapacity
Affiliate members
Air Force USAFA Soccer Stadium1,000Soccer-only member
Houston Baptist Sorrels Field500Soccer-only member
Incarnate Word Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium 6,000Soccer-only member
UNLV Peter Johann Memorial Field2,500Soccer-only member
Northern Colorado Baseball-only member Jackson Field 1,500
Sacramento State Baseball-only member John Smith Field*1,200
San Jose State Spartan Soccer Field 500 [68] Soccer-only member

Awards

Commissioner's Cup

The WAC awards its Commissioner's Cup to the school that performs the best in each of the conference's 19 men's and women's championships.

Joe Kearney Award

Named in honor of former WAC commissioner Dr. Joseph Kearney, the awards are given annually to the top male and female WAC athlete. The various WAC member institutions Athletics Directors select the male award winner, while the WAC member institutions Senior Women's Administrators choose the female honoree.

Stan Bates Award

The award is named in honor of former WAC Commissioner Stan Bates and honors the WAC's top male and female scholar-athletes, recognizing the recipients’ athletic and academic accomplishments. In addition, the awards carry a $3,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Media

WAC Digital Network

In 2014–15, the WAC initiated a new digital network to give fans high quality streaming internet access to many of its regular season games and postseason championships including volleyball, soccer, swimming and diving, basketball, softball and baseball. [69]

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