CEDAR CITY, Utah — Southern Utah University has officially left the Big Sky Conference to join the Western Athletic Conference, ending three months of speculation.
In a joint press conference Thursday, the WAC confirmed the addition of Southern Utah as part of announcing a return to football as an FCS conference. At the same time the league announced that Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin are joining as well.
All four of those schools are from Texas and previously have competed in the FCS Southland Conference. Southern Utah will begin play in the WAC in 2022.
The loss of SUU leaves the Big Sky with 12 conference teams that play football and 10 that play basketball.
"The Big Sky Conference thanks Southern Utah University for its contributions to our league over the past decade, and we wish the Thunderbirds well in the future while we continue to work together collegially over the next 18 months," the Big Sky said in a statement.
Southern Utah will play in a division with Dixie State, New Mexico State, Grand Canyon, California Baptist, Seattle University and Utah Valley. The other division is comprised of Texas schools.
"Southern Utah University is honored to join the WAC and help lead the resurgence of this great conference," SUU President Scott L Wyatt said in a statement from the school. "We join a group of universities that is growing in enrollment and a conference that is poised for the future. Being a member of the WAC also creates new athletic rivalries that our alumni and fans are excited about. This is a win-win opportunity for SUU and we look forward to the future."