UVU athletics: Utah Valley University accepts invitation to join WAC
Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics
OREM – Utah Valley University today announced it has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference. The Wolverines' membership in the new-look WAC will take effect July 1, 2013, and UVU will begin athletic competition in the conference next fall at the start of the 2013-14 season.
"Today's announcement is one more milestone for a UVU athletics program that continues to take giant steps forward," UVU President Matthew S. Holland said. "UVU and our athletics program are being propelled by tremendous momentum, and I have no doubt that the energy connected to UVU Athletics will add an exciting new dynamic to the Western Athletic Conference. Our athletic profile matches up exceptionally well with the WAC, and we absolutely share the conference's emphasis on and commitment to academic excellence. We are thrilled to accept the invitation to align with a conference with such a rich and storied tradition."
Joining the WAC is the latest storyline for a UVU Athletics program that has matured at an accelerated rate in recent years. In 2009, UVU ended seven years of provisional status and was officially recognized as a full NCAA Division I member, becoming the first and likely only institution to leap into the D-I ranks directly from junior college status. In the years since, UVU Athletics has produced Olympic and professional athletes, defeated national powerhouses in multiple sports and added new and renovated facilities.
"This move recognizes the many years of effort that have gone into building UVU's excellent athletics programs. Aligning with a nationally recognized conference partner like the WAC allows us to more fully reflect who we have become as an institution and athletics program," UVU Director of Athletics Michael V. Jacobsen said. "As we enter a new era for UVU Athletics, I am excited about the opportunities that await UVU and its student-athletes as we develop fruitful partnerships and athletic rivalries with regional sister institutions."
The move comes on the heels of a banner year for UVU Athletics. The Wolverine baseball team won 32 consecutive games this season, the third-longest streak in NCAA baseball history, and first-baseman Goose Kallunki earned consensus All-American honors and was drafted by the San Diego Padres. Mason Casper, grandson of golf legend Billy Casper, was ranked as high as No. 9 nationally and became the first-ever Wolverine golfer to quality for the NCAA Golf Championships when he received an at-large bid from the NCAA Selection Committee in early May. In the 2011 and 2012 school years, UVU produced six All-American athletes: Chris Benson (baseball), Billy Burgess (baseball), Austin Heaps (baseball), Kallunki (baseball), Ben Kjar (wrestling) and Isiah Williams (men's basketball).
The current 2013-14 WAC landscape includes Denver University, the University of Idaho, New Mexico State University, Seattle University, Utah Valley University and fellow newcomer California State University - Bakersfield.
"Both are quality institutions and bring high level competitive and academic qualities to the 2013-14 membership," said WAC Interim Commissioner Jeff Hurd of the two additions. "We are excited to begin the process of rebuilding the WAC and will continue to work to reestablish the league as one of the top Division I conferences in the West."
The conference continues to explore other possible expansion scenarios. Prior to joining the WAC, UVU was a founding member of the Great West Conference, where the Wolverines won the Commissioner's Cup in each of its first three years of existence.
"We are grateful for the opportunities we were afforded as a member of the Great West Conference. It has been a wonderful experience the past three years," Jacobsen said.
- Jeff Benedict: Jabari Parker announces...
- BYU Football: Harvey Jackson bolsters BYU's...
- Ranking the best rookie seasons in Utah Jazz...
- Surviving the unthinkable: Utah lineman who...
- Forget Kaepernick, Taysom Hill should be...
- Brad Rock: Utes nickname won't stay forever
- Season-ending victory hurts Utah Jazz's...
- Jabari to the Jazz? Fans react to Parker's...
- Bingham kicker commits to Utah after... 64
- BYU football: Cougars land commitment... 55
- Brad Rock: Utes nickname won't stay... 51
- CougarLinks: Former Cornhusker... 47
- Jeff Benedict: Jabari Parker announces... 39
- U., Ute Tribe reach agreement on... 37
- Utah football: Utes are eager to pick... 33
- Utah Jazz: Jazz suffer weird loss... 24