Western Athletic Conference: Wikis


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Western Athletic Conference
Established: 1962
Western Athletic Conference logo

NCAA Division I FBS
Members 9
Sports fielded 19 (men's: 8; women's: 11)
Region California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah,
New Mexico, Hawaii, and Louisiana
Headquarters Greenwood Village, Colorado
Commissioner Karl Benson (since 1994)
Website http://www.wacsports.com/
Western Athletic Conference locations

The Western Athletic Conference (WAC, IPA: [ˈwæk]) was formed on July 27, 1962, making it the sixth oldest of the 11 college athletic conferences currently participating in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; formerly Division I-A). The WAC covers a broad expanse of the Western United States, with member institutions located in California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, plus the "non-western" state of Louisiana (traditionally associated with the Southern United States). It is generally considered a "mid-major" conference; while it is not a member of the Bowl Championship Series selection system, it frequently produces teams that compete at a championship level.





The WAC formed out of a series of talks between Brigham Young University Athletic Director Eddie Kimball and other university administrators from 1958 to 1961 to form a new athletic conference that would better fit the needs and situations of certain universities which were at the time members of the Border, Skyline and Pacific Coast Conferences. Potential member universities who were represented at the meetings included Brigham Young University, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Arizona State, and Wyoming. While the three Washington and Oregon schools elected to stay in a revamped Pac-8 Conference that replaced the scandal-plagued PCC, the remaining six schools formed the WAC, forcing the disbandment of the Border and Skyline conferences. New Mexico State and Utah State applied for charter membership and were turned down; they would eventually become WAC members 43 years later.

Charter members

Success and first expansion

The conference proved to be an almost perfect fit for the six schools from both a competitive and financial standpoint. Arizona and Arizona State, in particular, experienced success in baseball with Arizona garnering the 1963 College World Series runner-up trophy and ASU winning the CWS in 1965, 1967, and 1969. UTEP, recently renamed from Texas Western College, and Colorado State joined in 1967 to bring membership up to eight.

With massive growth in the state of Arizona, the balance of WAC play in the 1970s became increasingly skewed in favor of the Arizona schools, who won or tied for all but two WAC football titles from 1969 onward. In the summer of 1978, the two schools left the WAC for the Pac-8, which became the Pac-10, and were replaced in the WAC by San Diego State and, one year later, Hawaii. The WAC further expanded by adding the U.S. Air Force Academy in the summer of 1980. A college football national championship won by Brigham Young in 1984 added to the WAC's reputation as the best of the so-called mid-major conferences. This nine-team line-up of the WAC defined the conference for nearly 15 years.

Second wave of expansion and turbulence

Fresno State expanded its athletic program in the early 1990s and was granted membership in 1992 as the nationwide trend against major college programs independent of conferences accelerated. The WAC merged with the High Country Athletic Conference, a parallel organization to the WAC for women's athletics, in 1990 to unify both men's and women's athletics under one administrative structure.

In 1996, the WAC expanded again, adding six schools to its ranks for a total of sixteen. Rice, TCU, and SMU joined the league from the Southwest Conference, which had disbanded. Big West Conference members San José State and UNLV were also admitted, as well as Tulsa from the Missouri Valley Conference. With the expansion, the WAC was divided into two divisions.

To help in organizing schedules and travel for the farflung league, the members were divided into four quadrants of four teams each, as follows:

Quadrant 1 Quadrant 2 Quadrant 3 Quadrant 4
Hawaiʻi UNLV BYU Tulsa
Fresno State Air Force Utah TCU
San Diego State Colorado State New Mexico SMU
San José State Wyoming UTEP Rice

Quadrant one was always part of the Pacific Division, and quadrant four was always part of the Mountain Division. Quadrant two was part of the Pacific Division for 1996 and 1997 before switching to the Mountain Division in 1998, while the reverse was true for quadrant three. The scheduled fourth year of the alignment was abandoned after eight schools left to form the Mountain West Conference.

The division champions in football met from 1996 to 1998 in a championship game at Sam Boyd Stadium (also known as the Silver Bowl) in Henderson, Nevada. ABC televised all three games.

Increasingly, this arrangement was not satisfactory to most of the older, pre-1990 members. Five members in particular (Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Utah and Wyoming) felt that WAC expansion had compromised the athletic and academic excellence of the membership [1]. Additional concerns centered around finances, as the new league stretched from Hawaiʻi to Oklahoma and travel costs became a concern. In 1999, those five schools, along with old line WAC schools New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as newcomer UNLV, would split off and form the Mountain West Conference, depriving the WAC of most of its competitive strength and almost all of its history (in addition to its 4 remaining charter members). Only UTEP and Hawaiʻi would remain from the WAC's "golden age".

WAC in the 2000's

In 2000 the Nevada of the Big West joined as part of its plan to upgrade its athletic program.

TCU left for Conference USA in 2001 (it would later leave C-USA to become the ninth member of the Mountain West in 2005).

When the Big West announced that it would drop football after the 2000 season, four of its members (Boise State, Idaho, New Mexico State, and Utah State) wanted to continue their football programs. Boise State was invited to join the WAC and promptly departed the Big West, while New Mexico State and Idaho joined the Sun Belt Conference (NMSU as a full member, Idaho as a "football only" member) and Utah State operated as an independent D-I program. At the same time, Louisiana Tech ended its independent D-I status and also joined the WAC.

In 2005, Conference USA sought new members to replenish its ranks after losing members to the Big East Conference. Four WAC schools, former SWC schools Rice and SMU, as well as Tulsa, and UTEP, joined Conference USA. In response, the Western Athletic Conference added Idaho, New Mexico State, and Utah State – ironically, the three former Big West schools which left the conference in 2000 along with Boise State when that conference dropped football.

Rumors of further membership changes

The Boise, Idaho, radio station KBOI reported on Nov. 11, 2008, that the Western Athletic Conference member Boise State's president Robert Kustra had received a letter from the Mountain West Conference with an invitation to join this league. Despite the popularity of potential expansion among some fans and reporters, this report, also reported on the Boise newspaper's Web site www.IdahoStatesman.com , has been denied.[citation needed]

Later, on November 12, 2009, San Diego radio host Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton reported that the Mountain West Conference intended to expand to gain automatic access to the Bowl Championship Series by adding Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State:

"These rumors are everywhere out of the nations capital. There are negotiations between the people for the BCS as well as the Mountain West Conference. If the Mountain West wants to get a guaranteed spot in the BCS they must expand. The expansion would include Boise State, Nevada-Reno and Fresno State. Make it a power twelve team conference." [2]

The rumor created commotion on internet message boards across the country. However, no immediate report from the Mountain West Conference, the BCS, or the NCAA was made to substantiate this claim.

Membership timeline

Current members (and year joined)

Institution Nickname Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment Joined Endowment
Boise State University Broncos Boise, Idaho 1932 Public 19,667 2001 $77 million
Fresno State University Bulldogs Fresno, California 1911 Public (California State University system) 22,613 1992 $112 million
University of Hawaii at Manoa Warriors/Rainbow Wahine Honolulu, Hawaii 1907 Public (University of Hawaii System) 20,135 1979 $3 billion (UH System)
University of Idaho Vandals Moscow, Idaho 1889 Public 11,957 2005 $176 million
Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs/Lady Techsters Ruston, Louisiana 1894 Public (University of Louisiana System) 11,289 2001 $65 million
University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack Reno, Nevada 1874 Public (Nevada System of Higher Education) 16,867 2000 $240 million
New Mexico State University Aggies Las Cruces, New Mexico 1888 Public 17,198 2005 $173 million
San Jose State University Spartans San Jose, California 1857 Public (California State University system) 32,746 1996 $50 million
Utah State University Aggies Logan, Utah 1888 Public (Utah System of Higher Education) 23,925 2005 $145 million
Locations of current Western Athletic Conference full member institutions.

Associate members


The WAC crowns team and individual champions in 19 sports – 8 men’s and 11 women’s.

Men's sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Indoor track and field
  • Outdoor track and field

Women's sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming and diving
  • Tennis
  • Indoor track and field
  • Outdoor track and field
  • Volleyball

Former members




  • TCU (1996-2001)


Of the former members:

  • Two (Arizona and Arizona State) are currently members of the Pac-10.
  • Four (Rice, SMU, Tulsa, UTEP) are in Conference USA.
  • The remaining nine make up the current membership of the Mountain West Conference (TCU was in Conference USA from July 2001 through June 2005 before joining the Mountain West).

Conference facilities

School Football stadium Capacity Basketball arena Capacity Baseball stadium Capacity
Full Members
Boise State Bronco Stadium 33,500 Taco Bell Arena 12,380 N/A
Fresno State Bulldog Stadium 41,031 Save Mart Center 15,544 Beiden Field 5,422
Hawaiʻi Aloha Stadium 50,000 Stan Sheriff Center 10,300 Les Murakami Stadium 4,312
Idaho Kibbie Dome 16,000 Cowan Spectrum 7,000 N/A
Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium 30,600 Thomas Assembly Center 8,000 J.C. Love Field 2,000
Nevada Mackay Stadium 29,993 Lawlor Events Center 11,784 William Peccole Park 3,000
New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium 30,343 Pan American Center 13,071 Presley Askew Field 750
San José State Spartan Stadium 30,578 The Event Center Arena 5,000 San Jose Municipal Stadium 5,200
Utah State Romney Stadium 25,500 Dee Glen Smith Spectrum 10,270 LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Field 500
Associate Members
Sacramento State Hornet Field 1,200


  • Idaho uses the same structure for both its home football and basketball games, although it uses a different name for the venue's basketball configuration. Also, Idaho has occasionally used Martin Stadium at Washington State University, only 8 miles (13 km) west, for a home football game. In 1999, while a member of the Big West Conference, Idaho played all of their home games at Martin Stadium and did not play a single game in the state of Idaho. This was due to the requirements by the Big West, and due to remodeling of the Kibbie Dome per the NCAA for Idaho to be a Division I-A, now FBS, school.



  • Paul Brechler (1962-1968)
  • Wiles Hallock (1968-1971)
  • Stan Bates (1971-1980)
  • Dr. Joseph Kearney (1980-1994)
  • Karl Benson (1994-present)


Commissioner's Cup: The WAC awards its Commissioner's Cup to the school that performs the best in each of the conference's 19 men's and women's championships.

Stan Bates Award: The award is named in honor of former WAC Commissioner Stan Bates and honors the WAC's top male and female scholar-athletes, recognizing the recipients’ athletic and academic accomplishments. In addition, the awards carry a $2,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Joe Kearney Award: Named in honor of former WAC commissioner Dr. Joseph Kearney, the awards are given annually to the top male and female WAC athlete. The WAC Athletics Directors select the male award winner, while the WAC Senior Woman Administrators choose the female honoree.

National championships

The following teams have won NCAA national championships while being a member of the WAC:

The WAC has also produced one AP national champion in football:

Football bowl games

The WAC regularly sends teams to three different bowl games: the Hawaiʻi Bowl, the Humanitarian Bowl, and the New Mexico Bowl. The WAC will also send a team to the Poinsettia Bowl if the Pac-10 conference cannot provide a team. In 2010 and 2013 the WAC will send a team to the Emerald Bowl. Additionally, the conference has the opportunity to send a team to a BCS game, and did so in 2006 with Boise State, 2007 with Hawaiʻi, and 2009, again with Boise State.

Bowl Championship Series

The WAC champion will receive an automatic berth in one of the five BCS bowl games if:

  1. ranked in the top 12 of the BCS Standings, or
  2. ranked in the top 16 of the BCS Standings and its ranking is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls, AND
  3. is the highest-ranked team from one of the six "non-BCS" or "non-AQ" (automatic qualifying) conferences.

The 2006 Boise State and 2007 Hawaiʻi teams qualified under the first criterion above. The 2008 Boise State team was ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, but did not qualify for an automatic BCS bid because Utah, the Mountain West Conference champion, was #6. The 2008 Broncos were passed over for a BCS berth despite being unbeaten in the regular season. Boise State was once again undefeated in 2009, and received a BCS Berth in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl despite the fact that TCU, also a mid-major, received the automatic bid.

Hawaiʻi Bowl

The bowl will select a WAC team and will match it against a Conference USA opponent. Hawaiʻi automatically qualifies for this bowl if it is bowl eligible and doesn't qualify for the BCS.

Humanitarian Bowl

The bowl will select a WAC team and will match it against a Mountain West Conference opponent.

New Mexico Bowl

The bowl will select a WAC team and will match it against a Mountain West Conference opponent.

Poinsettia Bowl

The bowl will select a WAC team, provided that the Pac-10 conference cannot supply an eligible team. The opponent will be a team from the Mountain West Conference.

Emerald Bowl

The bowl will select a WAC team in 2010 and 2013 to play the Pac-10's 6th place team provided they are eligible.

Conference championships





The Humanitarian Bowl is extended to the WAC team that finishes second in the conference, third if there is a team selected to the BCS.


  1. ^ http://www.wacsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10100&KEY=&ATCLID=1365971 Retrieved 2009-07-18.
  2. ^ "Hawaii Up Next for Women's Volleyball: ", UCLA Bruins Official Athletic Site, 2006-08-29. Retrieved on 2008-09-25.
  3. ^ Men's WAC Tennis results
  4. ^ Women's WAC Tennis results

External links

Simple English

This is a list of colleges and universities who play sports in the Western Athletic Conference:

  • Boise State University
  • Fresno State University
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • New Mexico State University
  • San José State University
  • Utah State University
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Nevada, Reno


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