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SFA leaves Southland Conference for Western Athletic Conference

SFA and three other Southland Conference programs — Abilene Christian University, Lamar University and Sam Houston State University — will join the Western Athletic Conference July 1.

With these additions, known as the "Texas 4," along with Southern Utah University, a current member of the Big Sky Conference slated to move to the WAC in 2022, the WAC will comprise a 13-member, two-division conference and revive the league's sponsorship of football, which has been dormant since 2012.

Although the Texas universities were originally scheduled to join the WAC in July 2022, the WAC board of directors unanimously voted to expedite the schools' entry.

"On behalf of our coaches, student-athletes and staff members, I want to thank the WAC board for its unanimous support in allowing us early entry for the 2021-22 season," said Ryan Ivey, SFA director of athletics. "We are extremely excited about the opportunity we have in front of us and look forward to years of success and partnership within the WAC league."

During the 2021-22 academic year, men's and women's basketball will feature both divisional and crossover play with the number of conference games to be played still pending. Football will include full conference play; all other sports that feature a regular season are expected to begin divisional play.

Administrators from involved institutions will work with conference staff members to finalize divisional alignment, scheduling and championships.

With six Texas members (including Tarleton State University and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and three Utah members, the majority of the WAC will be housed in the nation's two fastest-growing states since 2010. The expansion also means the WAC will have members located in or near five of the nation's top 13 media markets. Member locations in those areas will enhance university exposure, increase recruiting territory and draw more recruiting attention, according to Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president.

"Joining the WAC is a tremendous opportunity to elevate our athletic program and competition," Gordon said. "This move will increase our institutional profile and our exposure in some of the fastest-growing population areas in the country and simultaneously help enhance our revenue. The strong commitment of the WAC to academics and athletics, as well as our ability to keep our traditional rivalries and start new ones, is exciting."

Top image pictured, from left to right, Colby Carthel, SFA head football coach; Ryan Ivey, SFA director of athletics; Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president; Dr. Alisa White, Sam Houston State University president; Bobby Williams, SHSU director of athletics; and K. C. Keeler, SHSU head football coach