Western Athletic Conference introduces five more university members, launches new football program

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The Western Athletic Conference officially announced Jan. 14, the addition of Abilene Christian University, Lamar University, Sam Houston State University, Stephen F. Austin State University and Southern Utah University as members of the conference starting in July 2022.

The WAC’s official website also notes that the conference intends to sponsor a conference football competition at the Football Championship Subdivision level beginning in 2022.

“The new members, along with Dixie State and Tarleton, will give the WAC seven full-time members that play in, or are transitioning to, the Football Championship Subdivision,” according to the WAC press release. “It is anticipated that at least one more football-playing member will be added.”

While the addition of football to the WAC will not directly affect sports competitions at California Baptist University, the expansion of the conference will greatly affect CBU and all other conference schools.

“I cannot overstate my level of excitement in making this expansion announcement,” said Jeff Hurd, WAC commissioner, on the WAC’s official website. “The opportunity to bring five quality institutions into the conference, to significantly strengthen the WAC’s national basketball brand and other championship sport profiles.”

The expansion of the Western Athletic Conference is a momentous event for all schools in the conference, including California Baptist University. It will bring many new and exciting changes to conference competition for the various sports teams at CBU.

“I’m very excited about [the expansion of the WAC],” said Adam Tribble, head coach of the CBU cross country and track teams. “I think the fact that the WAC is going to be better, the better everyone is going to be.”

The CBU cross country and track teams are particularly dominant in conference competition and Tribble said he is excited for more opportunities to compete against more teams in upcoming seasons.

“The fishbowl we’re in now just got bigger, and that gives the fish in it more space to grow,” Tribble said. “I think we just have to keep doing what we’re doing. I think the only thing that really changes is that the bar that you’re trying to get over is higher.”

According to the WAC’s website, the newly expanded conference will feature divisions for team sports other than football and men’s and women’s basketball. The Southwest division will consist of all the current and new WAC schools that are based in Texas, while the West division will be made up of the rest of the WAC member schools.

The expansion of the conference will bring more publicity to the conference and elevate the level of competition for all sports. Even teams that are not directly affected by the addition of new members will benefit from the newly expanded conference.

“The WAC expansion could bring an excitement of sports and school spirit to our university,” said Isabella Rhodes, civil engineering major and junior member of the CBU women’s swimming and diving team. “If the expansion does create a greater conference, stronger sports competition and more attention, it may bring excitement to the student body to want to see our sports compete and win. It’ll make going to CBU competitions to cheer on our university’s name together exciting and fun. In return, it will create a greater experience for our student-athletes.”

The newly expanded WAC provides greater opportunities for all the students and student-athletes at WAC-member schools. 

The addition of football will bring more attention to the conference and member-schools, even for non-football schools like CBU. 

A larger conference raises the level of athletic competition and will make conference competition more exciting for fans and student-athletes alike.

All sports teams at CBU are training hard to compete in the newly expanded conference. 

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