|Yesterday’s announcement about the expansion of the Western Athletic Conference to 13 teams is good news for Aggie Athletics. The conference will lose Chicago State in 2022, but as of July 1, the WAC plans to add Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin State, all currently in the Southland Conference. Southern Utah University, currently in the Big Sky Conference, will become a WAC member in 2022. The new teams will give a broader reach for our Aggie Brand, especially in Texas, home to the four schools that will join the WAC this summer.
These schools will join current WAC members of California Baptist, Dixie State, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, Seattle, Tarleton State, Utah Valley and UT Rio Grande Valley. The expanded conference will have a regional focus in the western U.S., with NMSU conveniently located in the center of these schools. With the exception of Seattle, WAC schools will all be located in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and California.
With 13 members, the conference will be more stable. Changes to WAC membership from 2010-2013 dropped the number of members to only eight and led to the removal of football from WAC sports. The current expansion will return FCS football to the WAC. Although NMSU will maintain our status as an independent FBS team, we should have opportunities to develop a schedule that includes other conference members.
Aggie student-athletes have always excelled in WAC competition, and in the 2019-2020 academic year, they brought home four championships from regular season play and WAC tournaments. The new teams will bring additional depth to conference match ups, which will better prepare NMSU for competition at the national level.
While we are proud of their championships, the most important success for our student-athletes is that found inside the classroom. Last fall, even faced with pandemic-related challenges, our students turned in a successful semester with an average grade point average of 3.37.
This was the 31st semester in a row that our student-athletes average GPA exceeded 3.0. They are well represented among Crimson Scholars (157 last fall) and among students with a perfect 4.0 GPA.