After a realignment and expansion of the Western Athletic Conference was announced Thursday, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley revealed conversations regarding a football program in the university will be revisited.
The WAC expansion added Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and Southern Utah to the group of competing sports teams in a range of states including New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, and Washington State in the West, Illinois in the Midwest, and Texas in the Southwest. UTRGV is a WAC member according to The UTRGV Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
The newly added schools play FCS football and will join the WAC on July 1.
“The opportunity to bring five quality institutions into the conference, to significantly strengthen the WAC’s national basketball brand and other championship sport profiles, and to bring football back under the WAC umbrella, is one that made sense,” WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said.
The addition of football to the WAC provides UTRGV with a path forward to revisit conversations regarding the bringing a football program to the university, which the university has been discussing since 2016 when a football feasibility study was commissioned.
University leaders say they remain committed to reevaluating the possibility of football at UTRGV and will follow the process set aside to do so, the news release stated.
“There was no clear path forward,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said of the feasibility study.” The WAC expansion may provide such a path, one that includes participation in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision . Therefore, this is a good time to reevaluate the possibility of football at UTRGV.”
Bailey added that the university will have “significant discussions” with the community at large regarding the inclusion of a football program.
“Much work remains to be done before any new sport can be implemented,” Bailey said, adding that the program would also require approval from students and the UT System Board of Regents approval.