FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
ARLINGTON, TX – The University of Texas at Arlington announced today that it has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference, a move that will elevate the University’s competitive sports programs and increase its national profile.
UT Arlington becomes the 10th member of the WAC for the 2012-2013 academic year, joining Louisiana Tech University, New Mexico State University and Utah State University, among other institutions. UT Arlington is the third Texas institution to move to the WAC for the 2012-2013 season, along with The University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas State University.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the move unanimously during a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, July 14, 2011. WAC conference play will coincide with the first, full basketball season in UT Arlington’s College Park Center, a 7,000-seat, split-bowl arena designed by Cowboys Stadium architect HKS. The new events center – part of a 20-acre mixed-use development scheduled to open in late summer 2012 – promises to be an exciting, high-tech venue for conference games.
“We are honored to join the Western Athletic Conference,” UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity that advances the interests of our University and positions our athletics programs to compete at a higher level. It is clear recognition of the growing prominence of UT Arlington.”
The move is bittersweet for University leaders. UT Arlington is a charter member of the Southland Conference, which was founded in 1963. At the same time, President Spaniolo called the move to the WAC “consistent with the University’s strategic initiative to become a major research university.”
“Tier One institutions have Tier One athletics programs and student-athletes that compete at the highest levels, both on and off the field,” Spaniolo said.
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said UT Arlington brings geographic balance and increased media potential to the conference, in addition to top-level academics. The conference also includes the University of Denver, the University of Idaho, Seattle University and San Jose State University in 2012-2013. Ultimately, the WAC aims to create two, six-team divisions, Benson said.
“The addition of UT Arlington places the WAC in another top-20 media market, with the recent additions of Seattle and Denver,” Benson said. “Access to the Dallas-Fort Worth region will help the WAC secure more lucrative television rights fees in the future, a benefit for all of our member institutions.”
UT Arlington will be the WAC’s third non-football school, and UT Arlington’s membership in the WAC does not depend on a return of competitive football to UT Arlington.
Pete Carlon, UT Arlington’s director of intercollegiate athletics, said today’s announcement is a pivotal moment for the University.
“Joining the WAC places UT Arlington in a new era of collegiate sports,” Carlon said, noting that the WAC is one of 11 elite conferences in NCAA Division I athletics. “The WAC gives our University instant recognition across the country and moves us from regional athletics competition to a truly national stage.”
UT Arlington sponsors 14 Division I intercollegiate sports – baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s golf, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and women’s volleyball.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 34,000 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.