Utah Valley University’s wish has finally been granted.
A source close to the school’s athletic department told the Daily Herald that UVU has officially been invited to join the Western Athletic Conference.
According to the source, the school received a letter of invitation this week and will make it official at a press conference scheduled for next week, where it is expected that the WAC will introduce UVU along with Cal State University-Bakersfield as the newest conference members beginning in the 2013-14 season.
UVU is a member of the Great West Conference. The school joined the GWC in 2009, but has been searching for a better situation.
Last year the WAC turned down UVU and decided to add Seattle University, but recent defections have created additional openings.
The WAC now will be a six-team conference comprised of Idaho, New Mexico State, Denver, Seattle, UVU and CSU-B.
The NCAA requires a conference to have at least seven teams for basketball but in this case the WAC has been granted a two-year exemption to reach the seven-team minimum.
UVU athletic director Mike Jacobsen offered a “no comment” when asked about the invitation.
WAC Interim Commissioner Jeff Hurd did say the WAC is interesting in expanding but would not elaborate on who would be offered invitations.
“At some point in the future we will address that but that’s as far as I will go with it,” Hurd said. “We would like to be somewhere between eight to 12. My personal preference is 10 or 12. Part of the reason it’s hard to give you a definitive number is the conference landscape is so fluid. What I do almost every day is try to figure out a way to expand WAC membership in an area that’s beneficial to us.”
The WAC has been through a series of changes in recent years. Most notably Boise State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech, Texas State, UT-San Antonio and San Jose State have all moved on or will be moving on to join other conferences.
One of the biggest advantages for Utah Valley will be the WAC offers an automatic NCAA bid to post-season play for the conference winner, something not offered by the Great West Conference.
All of UVU’s teams will be participating in the WAC with the exception of the wrestling program, which will continue to participate in the Western Wrestling conference.
The Wolverines’ athletic program is coming off one the most successful season in its history. UVU baseball won a nation-best 47 games in 2012, including wins over Arizona, Arizona State and Nevada.
The men’s basketball team went 20-13 and was invited to the CollegeInsider.com tournament, where they lost to Damian Lillard’s Weber State Wildcats by one point.