| March 20, 2018

July 1, 2013 — A new era for the Western Athletic Conference

July 1, 2013

(Utah Valley President Mathew Holland enthusiastically announcing his school’s addition to the WAC)

In the long, illustrious and roller-coaster history of the Western Athletic Conference July 1, 2013 will stand as a landmark day for the conference. This day will serve as a sobering moment that signals the end of football in the half-century old conference, as well as the entrance of six new members who gave the conference the lifeline to simply survive in the non-football capacity it lives on as now.

With the departures of seven members, five of them football members, the conference officially ceases to sponsor football today. This is extremely sad considering the WAC is one of the most accomplished mid-major conferences in the history of college football. It has a Heisman Trophy winner, BCS Bowl victories, even a national championship. Its roots live on in the Pac-12 and Big 12 and in its final year featured three borderline top 25 programs.

But that was the past. This date also signals the future of the conference — It welcomes Chicago State, UT-Pan American, Cal State-Bakersfield, Utah Valley, Grand Canyon University and Missouri-Kansas City to a new nine-member conference also featuring incumbent members New Mexico State, Seattle and of course, Idaho.

Idaho and New Mexico State are the longest tenured members of the conference going on its 51st season, with Idaho of course slated to make a long-awaited non-football return to the Big Sky next summer.

For the fun of the occasion we do a quick breakdown of the new conference members, so you don’t have to.

Utah Valley University

Location: Orem, Utah
Previous affiliation: Great West (non auto-bid Division I)
Enrollment: Over 31,000
Notable alumni: That actress in Criminal Minds
What’s so special about Utah Valley? Like our favorite school in Boise, Utah Valley has humble beginnings as a two-year institution. Both athletically and academically the University is now eleven years into its transformation into a four-year institution.

University of Texas – Pan American (UTPA)

Location: Edinburg, Texas
Previous affiliation: Great West (non auto-bid Division I)
Enrollment: Over 19,000
Notable alumni: Former US Army Major General William F. Garrison — Of Black Hawk Down fame
What’s so special about UTPA? UTPA became a part of the University of Texas system in 1989 and is one of five UT schools to play Division I athletics. Three times in their Division I history they’ve had the NCAA scoring champion, last in 1993.

Grand Canyon University

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Previous affiliation: Pacific West (Division II)
Enrollment: Over 40,000*
Notable alumni: Tim Salmon. Yes. THE Tim Salmon.
What’s so special about Grand Canyon? The asterisk in enrollment. Over 90-percent of GCU’s enrollment is online. The private christian institution only has an on campus enrollment of around 3,500. Grand Canyon is the first for-profit institution to play Division I athletics.

California State University-Bakersfield

Location: Bakersfield, Calif.
Previous affiliation: Division I independent
Enrollment: 8,111
Notable alumni: The Huntington Beach Bad Boy
What’s so special about CSUB? The roadrunners were a Division II powerhouse, with three men’s basketball championships, before re-classifying for Division I. It’s on campus arena seats under 4,000 but the Roadrunners play a fair amount of home games at the downtown Rabobank Arena with a capacity of 10,000.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Previous affiliation: Summit League (Division I auto-bid)
Enrollment: 10,600 undergraduates
Notable alumni: Harry S Truman. Well, he only attended night classes at the law school and never graduated. But still, cool.
What’s so special about UMKC? The ‘Roos made the decision to jump to the WAC from the Summit league, the league in which Denver left the WAC for. With the Denver for UMKC swap the Summit League has eight Division I members.

Chicago State University

Location: Chicago, Ill.
Previous Affiliation: Great West (non auto-bid Division I)
Enrollment: 4,531 undergraduates
Notable alumni: You know all of that “College dropout” business from Kanye West? The school he dropped out of to pursue music was Chicago State University. His mother taught English there.
What’s so special about Chicago State? CSU will be, by far, the oldest school in the WAC having been founded in 1867. Athletically the Cougars will have one of only two men’s basketball teams in the conference to have participated in the post-season last season. The Cougars played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament last season.

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