WAC. This is not referring to the 1990s term used to describe something as unfavorable or unwanted. It is the exact opposite in this situation.
UVU has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference. As most students turn to excitement to hear the news, some turn to confusion, not quite understanding the significance. It means quite a lot for students and athletes alike.
“To say nothing of automatic qualifying bids for NCAA tournament play, which we all know our teams are absolutely worthy of,” President Matthew Holland said after making the announcement during a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 9.
With a season like the men’s basketball team had last year, with a 20-13 record and 13-game winning streak, or even the baseball team, with their 47-12 record and 32-game winning streak, they would have both played in the postseason. With that type of competitiveness, UVU looks to continue that success in the WAC.
For students, this entry gives an opportunity for school spirit to be brought into the hallways at UVU. At some basketball games, there have been too many empty yellow seats visible to the naked eye. With this entry into the WAC, UVU students now have more reason, if there wasn’t any before, to cheer for their fellow student athletes.
For student athletes, the games mean a lot more. Pride has always been there for the student athletes at UVU but now they will be playing for an actual postseason opportunity. Connie Hurlbut, senior athletic commissioner of the WAC, put it best when addressing what is to come for UVU.
“It will be fierce,” Hurlbut said. “It will be with coaches, not only your own but your competing coaches, who recognize and value the student athlete experience. It will be one of high sportsmanship.”
Also for student athletes, it will mean spending less time on the road. UVU is expected to have an estimated travel savings of 32 percent in the WAC. But it wasn’t these numbers that kept Holland happy. It was that of academic progression that kept the three-year president excited.
“The WAC is a regionally focused conference,” Holland said. “What it means for our student athletes, to not have to send them all over the country but to keep them closer to home, which is better for their academics as well as their athletics. This is just a tremendous thing.”
For future student athletes, Mike Jacobson, UVU’s athletic director, made a huge announcement of his own.
“Part of the requirements of membership in the Western Athletic Conference was for us to add men’s soccer,” Jacobson said. “Our plan is to do that and be playing the fall of 2014.”
This announcement was made after the inevitable question about a football team. And although UVU is not quite there yet financially, they are clearly making giant leaps toward building not only a credible but a competitive Division I athletic program.
Make sure to leave a spot open for the Wolverines on your bracket during March Madness 2014.