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Courtesy: UTSA Athletics

UTSA accepts invitation from Western Athletic Conference

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SAN ANTONIO — The University of Texas at San Antonio announced Thursday that it has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Roadrunners, who joined Denver and Texas State in accepting invitations, officially will be a member of the WAC on July 1, 2012.

“Today is an outstanding day to be a Roadrunner,” President Dr. Ricardo Romo said. “We are very excited about this new partnership, which is a great fit for us and a significant step forward for the University and the entire city of San Antonio.”

“This is yet another historic day for UTSA,” Athletics Director Lynn Hickey said. “We have been working extremely hard for a very long time to reach our goal of joining an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) conference and today’s invitation is a realization of a lot of hard work by so many different people. This is another great day for the University and our athletics department, and everyone is excited to take the next step up.”

“The addition of these three schools clearly sends a message that the WAC and its member schools are prepared to move forward to build a ‘new’ WAC,” Commissioner Karl Benson said. ”As the WAC prepares to begin its next 50 years as an athletics conference, I am confident that these three new members, along with the six other WAC schools, will continue to compete at the highest level of the NCAA.”

UTSA competes in 17 intercollegiate sports — baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field and women’s volleyball — at the Division I level.

The Roadrunners currently are a part of the Southland Conference, where they have been a member since 1991-92. The department has won 48 Southland Team Championships since joining the league, 22 of which have come since 2000-01. UTSA also won the 2007-08 Commissioner’s Cup and it boasts 25 Southland Student-Athletes of the Year since the league started handing out the award in 2002-03.

“The Southland is a great conference and we want to thank its leadership and member institutions for everything they have done the last 20 years,” Hickey said.

In its nearly 50 years of existence, the WAC has evolved and it features some of the nation’s best intercollegiate competition. The nation’s sixth-oldest conference (founded July 27, 1962) provides its student-athletes the chance to travel to scenic destinations and gain exposure in some of the nation’s most diverse markets. WAC student-athletes also have worked to achieve the highest levels of success with the academic support of their respective institutions.

The league crowns team and individual champions in 19 sports — eight men’s and 11 women’s. There are men’s championships in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis and indoor and outdoor track & field, while women compete in basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field and volleyball.

The league has experienced tremendous success during the last 10 years.

It has sent 31 teams to bowl games since 2001, including more than half of its teams in 2008 (a record-tying five), and the conference has been represented in Bowl Championship Series bowl games in three of the last four seasons.

In men’s basketball, the WAC has sent at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament in 24 of the past 27 seasons, while the league boasts two baseball National Champions. In women’s sports, Louisiana Tech basketball has played in all but three NCAA Tournaments, while Hawai`i made its fourth trip to the NCAA Volleyball Championship since 2000 a year ago.

Current WAC members include Boise State, Fresno State, Hawai`i, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State. Boise State is moving to the Mountain West Conference (MWC) at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, while Fresno State and Nevada will join the Broncos in the MWC one year later. Hawai`i is scheduled to join the MWC in football only in 2012-13, while the rest of its sports will move to the Big West Conference at that time.

The league announced on June 14, 2011, that Seattle University will join the conference along with UTSA, Denver and Texas State and UT Arlington then accepted an invitation on July 14, 2011, which will give the league 10 teams on July 1, 2012.

Former WAC institutions include charter members Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as Air Force, Colorado State, Rice, San Diego State, SMU, TCU, Tulsa, UNLV and UTEP.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in Texas and one of nine academic universities and six health institutions in the UT System. As a multicultural institution, UTSA aims to be a national research university providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA serves more than 30,000 students in 65 bachelor’s, 49 master’s and 21 doctoral degree programs in the Colleges of Architecture, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Honors, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy, Sciences and Graduate School. Founded in 1969, it is an intellectual and creative resource center and a socioeconomic development catalyst for Texas and beyond.

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