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WAC-ASUN Partnership Rebranded As United Athletic Conference

Apr 17, 2023, 11:50 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – The Western Athletic Conference announced that its partnership with the ASUN Conference has been officially rebranded as the United Athletic Conference.

The UAC revealed the new league title on Monday, April 17.

Southern Utah and Utah Tech are members of the conference.

“The ASUN Conference and Western Athletic Conference (WAC) football partnership is now officially known as the United Athletic Conference, as announced jointly on Monday by the football-sponsoring members of both conferences,” the league said in a statement. “Entering its third year as a formal football partnership but first as a single entity, the United Athletic Conference now fully operates like a single-sport conference with an independent budget, policies and governing documents. The group will recognize its own league champion and at-large FCS playoffs automatic qualifier under a singular conference banner beginning with the 2023 football season.”

Former NFL player, NCAA executive VP, and XFL commissioner Oliver Luck is the league’s executive director.

RELATED: ESPN: Southern Utah, Utah Tech Part Of New Conference Attempting Move To FBS

In December 2022, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that the WAC planned to merge with the Atlantic Sun in an attempt to move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

“The remaining football members of the Atlantic Sun and WAC have agreed to align to form the foundation of a 10-member football-only conference, sources told ESPN, with the intention of becoming the 11th FBS conference,” Thamel reported.

Per Thamel’s sources, the new conference aspires to jump “from what is currently known as FCS football to what is currently known as FBS football at the earliest practicable date.”

United Athletic Conference football programs

  • Former Western Athletic Conference schools
    • Stephen F. Austin
    • Abilene Christian
    • Utah Tech
    • Southern Utah
    • Tarleton State
  • Former Atlantic Sun Conference schools
    • Austin Peay
    • Eastern Kentucky
    • Central Arkansas
    • North Alabama

UT Rio Grande Valley is starting a football program and is expected to join the league in 2025.

“Of note here: The agreement includes the goal to “immediately explore expansion opportunities,” sources said. League officials have begun early conversations with at least four other high-profile FCS football programs, sources said,” Thamel tweeted.

Currently, the FBS has 10 conferences. The United Athletic Conference would be the 11th FBS league if elevated from the FCS ranks.

According to the NCAA handbook, “Before a [FCS] institution may apply for reclassification for the [FBS] the institution must receive a bona fide invitation for membership from a [FBS] conference or a conference that previously met the definition of a FBS conference.”

The Beehive State currently features three FCS programs in Southern Utah, Utah Tech, and Weber State. The state’s current FBS programs are BYU, Utah, and Utah State.

If the new conference reaches the FBS and doesn’t include Weber State in its expansion, the Wildcats would join the Snow College Badgers as the only football programs in the state of Utah to not play in the FBS. Weber State currently competes as a member of the FCS’ Big Sky Conference. Snow is part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

Utah Valley (Division I), Westminster (Division II), Utah State Eastern (NJCAA), and Salt Lake Community College (NJCAA) don’t compete in football.

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WAC-ASUN Partnership Rebranded As United Athletic Conference