EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Longtime fans of the Western Athletic Conference can remember a time when the conference’s product on the football field was impeccable.
Boise State won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl as a member of the WAC; Hawai’i made the 2008 Sugar Bowl when it still played in the conference.
The league hasn’t sponsored the sport since 2012, but that is about to change. According to multiple reports, including Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel, football will return to the WAC in 2022.
The league will begin at the FCS level, and feature seven initial members: Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Southern Utah, Tarleton State and Dixie State. Two more additional members could be added in the coming months.
An official announcement is expected next week.
A person with knowledge of the situation told KTSM that the plan is to transition back to the FBS level at some point in the next decade, ideally within the next five years. That’s where New Mexico State factors in.
The Aggies have been an FBS Independent since 2018, after leaving the Sun Belt Conference. However, Director of Athletics Mario Moccia has long said that the school has no interest in dropping to FCS just to join a conference.
While NMSU is interested in getting back into a conference at some point, remaining at the FBS level is a higher priority, in part, because it is more lucrative form the Aggies to remain there.
Once the WAC transitions back to FBS, it is thought that the Aggies will immediately join the league to once again be a part of a conference.
On the basketball court, the conference could be an imposing mid-major league with not only NMSU, but consistent NCAA Tournament squad Stephen F. Austin, plus Grand Canyon and Tarleton State with new head coach Billy Gillispie.