Raising Our Game
Move to Western Athletic Conference coincides with College Park Center opening
It’s a whole new ballgame for UT Arlington athletics. When the Maverick basketball and volleyball teams take the court in fall 2012, they’ll be playing in a new conference and a new arena.
UT Arlington has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference, a move expected to elevate the University’s competitive sports programs and increase its national profile. UT Arlington becomes the 10th member of the WAC for the 2012–13 academic year, joining San Jose State University, New Mexico State University, and Utah State University, among other institutions.
WAC conference play will coincide with the first full basketball season at College Park Center, a 7,000-seat, split-bowl arena designed by Cowboys Stadium architect HKS. The events center is part of the 20-acre, mixed-use College Park District scheduled to open in late summer 2012.
“This is clear recognition of the growing prominence of UT Arlington and is consistent with our strategic initiative to become a major research university,” President James D. Spaniolo says. “Tier One institutions have Tier One athletics programs and student-athletes who compete at the highest levels, both on and off the field.”
“Tier One institutions have Tier One athletics programs and student-athletes who compete at the highest levels, both on and off the field.”
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson says UT Arlington brings geographic balance and increased media exposure to the conference, plus top-level academics. The conference also includes UT San Antonio, Texas State University, the University of Denver, the University of Idaho, Seattle University, and Louisiana Tech University for 2012–13. Benson would like to add two more schools and create two, six-team divisions.
“The addition of UT Arlington places the WAC in another top-20 media market with the recent additions of Seattle and Denver,” he says. “Access to the Dallas-Fort Worth region will help the WAC secure more lucrative television rights fees in the future, a benefit for all of our member institutions.”
All of UT Arlington’s 14 Division I intercollegiate sports will compete in the new conference. Pete Carlon, the University’s athletics director, says the move from the Southland Conference to the WAC ushers in a new era of Maverick athletics.
“This gives UT Arlington instant recognition across the country,” he says, noting that the WAC is one of 11 elite conferences in NCAA Division I athletics. “It moves us from regional athletics competition to a truly national stage.”