On July 1, 2022, the WAC began a new fiscal year with a pair of new members. The Southern Utah T-Birds and UT Arlington Mavs both joined the WAC. The T-Birds came over from the Big Sky Conference. And the Mavericks came over from the Sun Belt. For UT Arlington, it was actually a return to the WAC, where the Mavericks were members in 2012-13.
Then-commissioner Jeff Hurd pulled off a coup prior to stepping down at the end of 2021.
With the WAC seemingly on life support, Hurd reeled in the Texas 4 of Abilene Christian, Stephen F. Austin, Lamar and Sam Houston. Three of those schools are still in the WAC. The fourth, well, that’s another story that you will see in one of these top-10 stories.
Along with the Texas 4, Hurd also persuaded Southern Utah to make the leap from the Big Sky Conference to the WAC. The T-Birds chose to wait a year from that 2021 announcement.
And on January 21, 2022, the WAC announced that UT Arlington would be rejoining the WAC beginning in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Two schools that not only added increased stability to the league, also added an improvement in competition, as well. The UT Arlington Lady Mavs won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and nearly upset 3-seed Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament. In the case of Southern Utah, the T-Birds brought over an FCS football team and a really good men’s basketball team. Add in that Tracy Sanders has the women’s basketball team competing at a higher level, and it was a win-win for the WAC.
So far, at least in the hoops season, the Southern Utah has lived up to the billing. Todd Simon’s group just knocked off the defending champs in Las Cruces. It is just the fourth time since January 1, 2012, that a WAC opponent has beat the Aggies on their home floor.
The UT Arlington Lady Mavs went 6-6 in arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in the league.
These were quality additions that replaced outgoing Chicago State, Lamar and UIW.