Strength in Numbers as UT-Arlington Officially Joins the WAC

UT-Arlington
UT-Arlington will join the WAC beginning July 1, 2022. Picture from UTA Athletics.

There is strength in numbers. That is a known fact. And the strength of the Western Athletic Conference.

UT-Arlington will join the WAC beginning July 1, 2022 per release from the WAC on Friday afternoon.

Perhaps we should state that strength comes in having a former school rejoin the conference. UT-Arlington was a member of the WAC during the 2012-13 season before heading to the Sun Belt Conference.

“We are extremely excited to welcome The University of Texas at Arlington to the Western Athletic Conference. UTA will be a great addition to the league,’ said WAC commissioner Brian Thornton. “UTA brings a stellar academic reputation and commitment to excelling athletically. Our Board of Directors was extremely impressed with UTA’s focus on the total student-athlete experience while preparing them for life beyond their time on campus.”

The Mavericks sponsors 15 varsity sports, all of which will compete in the WAC. In their brief time in the WAC, they won the men’s cross-country title and shared the regular season baseball title. As a department, they have won 45 regular season titles and 82 tournament championships since beginning athletics in 1963.

With the addition of UT-Arlington for the 2022-23 season, the WAC will have 15 members. Incarnate Word and Southern Utah are set to join the WAC at the same time as the Mavericks.

The strength of the WAC lies in Texas right now. With the addition of UT-Arlington, there will be eight schools from the Longhorn State. Strength in numbers creates that foothold. The Mavericks are currently 4-3 in the Southland and 8-10 overall in men’s basketball. The Mavericks had two games against WAC schools this season. Abilene Christian beat the Mavericks, 80-71, on Nov. 16. And then UT-Arlington beat Lamar, 56-47, on Dec. 11. On the women’s side, the Mavericks are 4-2 in the Southland and 10-5 overall.

“As Mavericks, we pride ourselves on the pursuit of excellence in the classroom and on the playing field,” said Teik C. Lim, UTA interim president. “This move expands our geographic footprint to the west coast and creates exciting new competitive opportunities and partnerships for our university and our fellow WAC members. We view this as a win-win for UTA and the WAC, and as a university, we look forward to the change and the challenges ahead.”

Strength in Numbers

If you remember, it was just three years ago that the WAC was hanging by a thread. Kansas City and CSU Bakersfield were leaving following the 2019-202 academic year. The WAC brought in Tarleton and Dixie State to offset those departures.

And then the strength in numbers came into play. Then-commissioner Jeff Hurd pull a savvy move in January, 2021. The Texas 4 as we refer to them brought strength and solidified the WAC. As a part of building that strength, Southern Utah was part of the announcement, as well but set to join in 2022-23.

Then, Hurd made another move when it was announced Sam Houston and New Mexico State were leaving for Conference USA in the Fall of 2021. Hurd went out and brought in Incarnate Word. While many fans, especially former Southland Conference fans, didn’t like the move, it added strength and stabilized the WAC, once again.

Now, with the addition of another Texas school in UT-Arlington, the strength of the WAC hasn’t been as strong in quite some time. Plus, the addition of the Mavericks helps offset Chicago State departing the WAC at the end of the 2021-22 academic year.

“We are extremely excited that UTA is joining the rejuvenated Western Athletic Conference,” said Grand Canyon University President and WAC Board of Directors chair Brian Mueller. “They are bringing their excellent academic reputation as well as their rich athletic tradition to a rapidly expanding mid major conference with huge potential.”

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