Utah Valley University's athletic department released a sigh on Tuesday.
A sigh of disappointment.
It turns out that the Western Athletic Conference will expand, but that expansion won't include UVU.
The WAC officially invited Seattle University to join the conference on Tuesday. Seattle will become a member of the conference on July 1, 2012. With the addition of Seattle, the WAC will consist of nine full-time members for the 2012-13 season; Denver (non-football), Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Seattle (non-football), Texas State, UTSA and Utah State.
UVU athletic director Mike Jacobsen was hopeful the WAC Board of Directors would follow WAC commissioner Karl Benson's recommendation to expand from eight to 10 teams, but in the end the WAC opted to add just one team.
"We gave it our best shot. We have no regrets, we did everything we could," Jacobsen said. "It's a big disappointment to the Wolverine family. We were hoping for more."
UVU President Matthew S. Holland addressed the WAC Board of Directors on Monday in Park City. He tried to sell UVU as an attractive member and even said the school was willing to do a feasibility study on the possible addition of football, but it wasn't enough for UVU to get in.
"We put all of our eggs on this basket. We had high hopes, but we came up on the short end," Jacobsen said. "We've got plenty to do. We have to continue to build our programs and improve our facilities."
When asked why he felt like Seattle was chosen over UVU, Jacobsen pointed to the support of Idaho.
"Idaho wanted them in. They felt like they would be a good travel partner, they have 100 years of academic excellence," he said. "They have things that we don't have no question. But we also have things that they don't have. In the end, I think the support that Idaho gave Seattle was big."
The WAC will likely continue to expand in the future, but the conference has indicated it would like to add football schools. UVU will continue to hold onto hope that the WAC will see the school as an attractive addition, it just won't be this year.
Utah Valley is currently a member of the Great West Conference and desperately wanted to join the WAC. Now that the WAC is not an option, UVU has no other conference leads and will have to stay in the Great West.
"We are pleased to announce that Seattle University is joining the WAC," Benson said. "Seattle's tradition and history along with a strong commitment to academics, its athletics program and their facilities make the university and its top-15 media market a great fit for the WAC. We look forward to a beneficial and successful relationship."
Seattle U, currently an independent, is a private institution founded in 1891 with an enrollment of 7,751. The Redhawks sponsor 19 sports, 17 of which will compete in the WAC (men's and women's cross country, women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's swimming and diving, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, men's and women's basketball, softball, baseball, men's and women's golf, and men's and women's tennis).
The WAC also announced on Tuesday that Utah State president Dr. Stan Albrecht, the chair of the Board of the Directors, will again serve in the same position for the 2011-12 academic year.
In other news, the WAC also confirmed the addition of three affiliates in various sports for the 2011-12 season: Brigham Young (softball), North Dakota (women's swimming and diving) and Denver (gymnastics).
UVU believes it would have been a tremendous boost economically to its athletic program to join the WAC and it would have cut down on its tremendous travel expense and generate more money, which is why the news came as a big blow to UVU.
"We'll be fine," Jacobsen said. "We're disappointed, but we'll be fine."