Utah Valley University has accepted the invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference as a full participating member beginning July 1, 2013.
“I am pleased to announce that Utah Valley University has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference,” Dr. Matthew Holland, President of UVU, said.
The Wolverines will be joining a conference that is in the midst of a major transition. The WAC has lost many of its conference members to other conferences and has been forced to stop sponsoring football.
The addition of UVU to the WAC brings the WAC to six member institutions: Cal State Bakersfield, Denver University, University of Idaho, New Mexico State, Seattle University and, as of Oct. 9, UVU.
“This is the first step in what our board of directors have called the ‘evolution of the WAC,'” said Connie Hurlbut, WAC Senior Associate Commissioner. “We look forward to being a bigger and stronger conference.”
The Wolverines had been competing in the Great West Conference and were looking for an opportunity to have automatic bids to the major NCAA tournaments. UVU was also looking to join a conference that was more regionally based so the athletes at UVU wouldn’t have to travel so much.
“We don’t have to send them all over the country,” Holland said. “We can keep them closer to home, which is better for their academics, as well as their athletics.”
Utah Valley also announced, beginning in 2013, UVU would field a men’s soccer team.
“Part of the requirements for us to join the Western Athletic Conference was for us to add men’s soccer,” said Mike Jacobson, Director of Athletics at UVU. “Our plan is to be playing by the fall of 2014.”
With the announcement of a men’s soccer team, Holland and Jacobson tempered the expectations and requests for a football team at UVU.
“Football teams are a very expensive proposition,” Holland said. “I’ve never taken (the idea) off the table. Right now, we’re in exactly the place we should be with the sports we have.”
Utah Valley also announced it is in the process of upgrading the jumbotron at the UCCU center. The new jumbotron will include statistic and media boards as well as advertising boards. New scoreboards will also be installed in the P.E. building, where volleyball and wrestling compete, and at the softball field.
These announcements are exciting for the school of 33,000 students. The university has continued to make improvements, both academically and athletically, since they announced the change from UVSC four years ago to Utah Valley University.