The official announcement of Texas State’s acceptance into the Western Athletic Conference was made Thursday during a presentation at Strahan Coliseum.
Students, alumni, Bobcat Club members and residents gathered to hear the live streaming of WAC Commissioner Karl Benson’s teleconference, announcing the addition, effective July 2012, of Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Denver.
“On July 1, 2012, the WAC will have just concluded its 50th year as a conference, and we are confident these three schools will play major roles in repositioning the WAC for its next 50 years,” Benson said during the teleconference. “On the football side, we believe strongly that Texas State and UTSA are well-prepared to make the move to (Football Bowl Subdivision). Both have made significant investments in their football programs, and we are confident both the Roadrunners and the Bobcats will have an immediate impact in the WAC, and on the national football landscape.”
The addition of the three programs will make the WAC a nine-school league with eight football teams. Denver will be the first school in WAC history to join without a football team.
Texas State Athletic Director Larry Teis said having UTSA as part of the WAC’s realignment will benefit the Bobcats.
“The fact that us and UTSA could go together was important, because it cut down travel costs and kept the rivalry in place,” Teis said. “The football rivalry between us and UTSA will be tremendous for the future.”
University Presidentsaid Texas State officials had conversations with other conferences before receiving an invitation to join the WAC.
“We were in talks with the Sun Belt and Conference-USA, in addition to the WAC,” Trauth said. “We independently concluded the WAC was best for us.”
Texas State will compete as a Southland Conference program in all sports next season, and will be ineligible to contend for a league title in football, according to Teis. He said Texas State has numerous steps to take before becoming a full WAC member, including increasing the number of football scholarships and completing improvements to facilities.
“We have to finish the football stadium to get to 30,000 (seats),” Teis said. “We have to work on football schedules, which have just changed dramatically. We have a lot of work left to do. It’s ‘The Drive,’ and we just put the keys in the ignition.”
Texas State will face a $250,000 fine for leaving the SLC without providing a two-year notice. Trauth said, however, the university has a donor in place to cover the fine. The focus now shifts to Texas State’s potential in the WAC, especially with additional pressure on head coaches.
“Being in an FBS conference and in the WAC, Texas State will be better now,” Trauth said. “Winning teams fill seats, and we need to fill seats. Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure on our head coaches to perform at this level, but I think they can handle it.”