Arguably the biggest news in UVU athletics history leaked during the first week of October at neighboring publication Daily Herald. Their sports reporter Neil Warner reported that a close source told him UVU had accepted an invitation to the Western Athletic Conference.
A week later, the emails were sent out from the athletic department to all should-knows in local media, including the UVU Review, that the school would be holding a press conference that led to the official announcement that Utah Valley would indeed join the WAC on July 1, 2013.
Though the start of the 2013 season seems like a very distant time, it may spring up on the coaches and student athletes quicker than imagined as the preparations have already begun. Preparations include new bleachers at Clyde Field, a new jumbotron in the UCCU Center, a better stats and scoreboard in the women’s softball field and the start-up of a NCAA men’s soccer team, just to name a few.
Even for those who aren’t as knowledgeable when it comes to sports can sense the importance of this announcement. Those in attendance at the press conference on Oct. 8 could feel the excitement as the stage glowed with a white backdrop that neatly presented the “UVU” Wolverine logo right alongside the “WAC” logo. It looked official and sounded even more so when the students in attendance started shouting “UVU, UVU, UVU!”
“This is a historic moment for the university and I couldn’t be more personally thrilled and institutionally proud,” said President Matthew Holland in the opening remarks of the press conference. “This is a terrific brand in collegiate athletics. It’s a storied and long history of terrific teams and outstanding competition. For us to be competing in this is exactly where we want to be.”
The WAC is part of the 11 NCAA’s Division I-A conferences. It started in 1962 when the first six teams were Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The conference will have six total teams competing in 2013 when UVU joins the mix. One will be another newcomer California State University Bakersfield along with Denver University, the University of Idaho, New Mexico State and Seattle University. UVU instate rival Utah State will be leaving the WAC for the Mountain West Conference in 2013.
“We got here because of a lot of people and a lot of great leadership. It starts with Mike Jacobsen in his 29th year as Athletic Director. He built this from the ground up,” Holland said. “I pay tribute for our students and our student athletes. We are doing this today for you. Student success is at the heart of this institution and you not only exemplify student success but we now have the platform for student success on a whole new level.”
Most happy for the conference change may be Jacobsen, as he has tried heavily to get into a better conference for Utah Valley, a conference that would make UVU a more appealing pick for talented student athletes. His patience certainly paid off.
“To our student athletes: You’ve recruited and came to Utah Valley University knowing really that there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” Jacobsen said at the conference. “Knowing that you can be the best you can be and be the best in the conference and maybe even the best in the country, yet there is no opportunity for the automatic qualifiers. But you’ve still been willing to come be a Wolverine.
To find out more information on what it means for our athletic program to be in the WAC, be sure to read our Assistant Sports Editor Alex Rivera’s story in this same issue. He touches on some of the more specific advantages to this joining.