Stephen F. Austin is officially headed to the Western Athletic Conference.
SFA, along with other current Southland Conference programs Sam Houston State, Lamar and Abilene Christian, were announced to the WAC during a news conference Thursday morning at the NRG Center in Houston.
“What an exciting day to be a Lumberjack”, SFA athletic director Ryan Ivey said. “This move to the WAC will allow us to take a step forward in achieving our vision of becoming the leading mid-major athletic department in the Nation. Having the opportunity to join a strong conference alongside like- minded institutions is paramount to our future growth. This move will allow us to elevate our athletic department and provide an opportunity to grow our institutional profile through our athletic department.”
“Joining the WAC is a tremendous opportunity to elevate our athletic program and competition”, SFA president Dr. Scott Gordon said. “This move will increase our institutional profile, increase our exposure in some of the fastest growing population areas in the country and at the same time enhance our revenue. The strong commitment of the WAC to academics and athletics as well as our ability to keep our natural rivalries and start new ones is exciting.”
Southern Utah, which is currently in the Big Sky Conference, is also joining the WAC.
The four Southland schools are set to join the WAC on July 1, 2021, and begin competing in the conference during the 2021-22 school year. Southern Utah will join July 1, 2022, and will begin competing that following academic year.
Current programs in the conference are California Baptist, Chicago State, Dixie State, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, Seattle, Tarleton State, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Utah Valley.
Chicago State announced that is leaving the conference in June 2022.
Men’s sports in the WAC include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field.
Women’s sports in the WAC include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and volleyball.
The 13-team conference will be split into two divisions — southwest and west.
All five of the new members of the WAC play football, which means the WAC will bring football back for the first time since the conclusion of the 2012 season. Participating football members are SFA, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, Lamar, Southern Utah, Tarleton State and Dixie State.