“As we have witnessed over the past several months, Division 1 athletics can be a changing landscape and with that change will come opportunity,” says UIW President Dr. Thomas M. Evans. “The University of the Incarnate Word is committed to prioritizing what is best for our student-athletes and the Mission of the University. A move to the WAC at this time puts our student-athletes in the best position to succeed academically and competitively. We want to thank the WAC Board of Directors, Commissioner Jeff Hurd and all the member institutions for the opportunity to join this prestigious league and we look forward to working with them to maintain and strengthen the level of sportsmanship and competition for which the WAC is known. We would also like to thank the institutions of the Southland Conference for their partnership over the past nine years.”
With the addition of UIW, the WAC will soon consist of 14 schools competing in 20 different men’s and women’s sports, including eight teams that will compete in football at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level.
The conference is beginning its 60thyear of intercollegiate competition and in August 2021 the WAC entered into a new media rights agreement with ESPN. Under that agreement, more than 500 live WAC games and events including football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, swimming and diving, track and field, softball and baseball will be available for fans to watch on ESPN+. In addition, ESPN will produce the men’s and women’s basketball championship games.
“UIW brings a stellar reputation, a balanced athletics program and a great geographic location to the WAC,” says Jeff Hurd, commissioner of the WAC. “The conference’s Board evaluated every aspect of UIW’s profile and know it is a great fit for the conference now and for years to come.”
UIW currently has 23 men’s and women’s teams competing in 14 different sports. Student-athletes at the university have proven to be champions on and off the field. In the Spring of 2021, UIW student-athletes recorded a collective GPA of 3.27. Despite the ongoing effects of the pandemic felt throughout the year, they managed to log 4,895 hours of volunteer service in the community over 2020-2021.
“We are excited to be joining the WAC,” says Richard Duran, UIW athletic director. “This will raise the profile of all our sports teams and give our student-athletes a chance to compete on a different level. We consistently ask our students to be champions in the classroom, the community and in competition. This move will provide them the opportunity to do just that.”