ABILENE, Texas — Abilene Christian University officially joined the Western Athletic Conference July 1 after spending the last eight seasons in the Southland Conference.
Three other former Southland schools also joined the WAC.
ACU athletic director Allen Ward said the WAC has a good branding identity, which is beneficial for the program.
“As we studied the move, we thought it was going to be beneficial to ACU," Ward said. "We loved our association with Stephen F. Austin University, Sam Houston State University and Lamar University. Joining the league that has UTRGV and Tarleton State in it, we felt like there was going to be a really nice Texas presence there."
According to the WAC sports website, it reintroduces football to its portfolio this fall, with six teams including ACU competing at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. In addition to the four new institutions, Dixie State University and Tarleton will also compete on the gridiron.
“I love the strategy that we're taking," Ward said. "We have a West Division and a Southwest Division in the WAC. We're part of the Southwest Division which includes the Texas schools. We have some rough scheduling advantages by doing it that way and there's some travel efficiencies that we have by doing it that way.”
Ward said joining the WAC will enhance the recruiting footprint for students and student-athletes. ACU’s move to the conference will build upon the momentum the university has as a Division I member.
“This is a great opportunity for ACU as far as where we want to take our athletic program," Ward said. "We're still a pretty young Division I program. We're moving at a very rapid pace and I like that. It's not as much about potential as it is promise, and I love the promise that we have here with our program.”
Women’s soccer will be the first team to compete in the WAC this fall.