UT Arlington is moving up in the collegiate athletic world.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents [Thursday] approved UTA joining the Western Athletic Conference beginning July 1, 2012.

UTA has been a charter member of the Southland Conference since 1963, but it is leaving the Texas-Louisiana-Arkansas based league for a conference with a much broader geographical reach and that is a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).

UTA disbanded its football program after the 1985 season and its admittance into the WAC was not conditioned on restarting the sport, but the WAC’s membership in the FBS will mean higher conference revenues UTA can draw from.

There’s been talk about UTA reviving its football program for some time now. I haven’t seen any updates lately, but certainly a conference upgrade could help spur things on. Whether that turns out to be a good thing for them or not remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, UTA’s fellow Southland Conference-to-WAC school UTSA will be starting up football this fall, and they have grand plans to draw crowds.

Always careful to avoid painting herself into a corner, UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey repeatedly demurred when asked to predict what kind of crowd the Roadrunners might draw for their inaugural football game on Sept. 3 at the Alamodome.

Finally, however, her guard slipped when asked if luring 30,000 fans was a reasonable expectation.

“At least,” Hickey said. “I think we’ll have more. I think we’ll have an outstanding first crowd.”

And then the real challenge will begin.

As the story notes, every new entrant into the world of college football started out with a much bigger crowd than it finished its first season with. I expect UTSA will have similar issues – Lord knows, their home schedule lacks anything resembling a big name – but in the end I do expect them to do well. San Antonio is an enormous underserved market for football, and the Alamodome is a fine facility. It may take them awhile, but UTSA should have all the ingredients they need to make their mark on the sport.

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3 Responses to UTA and UTSA

  1. Greg Wythe says:

    I’ve got a trip to San An pencilled in for when McMurry St visits them. Hal Mumme’s original Air Raid offense is a big enough draw for me.

  2. Karl Ittmann says:

    A fool’s game. UTA and UTSA will lose millions on football, as do the vast majority of D 1 schools. UH has been bleeding red ink for 20+ years. The loss of $250-500 million dollars over that time has been covered by taking all discretionary revenues and applying them to athletics and by forcing students to pay a fee to support athletics. Its time for universities to find a new model that is sustainable or give up the game.

  3. Linkmeister says:

    Only from the Southland Conference would moving to the WAC be perceived as an upgrade. Hawai’i has been frustrated by the lack of respect the WAC has gotten for years as manifested by only one conference member making it to the NCAA tournament, Boise State’s inability to compete for the national championship in football and other slights.

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