A few weeks ago, Stephen F. Austin football head coach Colby Carthel made an interesting statement about a potential new league.
Carthel said on Welcome to 365 Sports that the ASUn and WAC football schools were going to merge to make their own league. And that an announcement was coming in the next few weeks.
Carthel’s statement came on Nov. 22, 2022. You can see the entire live stream here.
Well, on Friday morning, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports that is, indeed, the case beginning in the 2024 season.
Stephen F. Austin, ACU, Southern Utah, Tarleton and Utah Tech will join with Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, Central Arkansas and North Alabama to form a new football-only conference.
UTRGV will join in 2025 when it begins playing football, making 10 members of this new football-only league.
All other sports will continue to stay in either the WAC or the ASUN.
Per Thamel, the ‘schools have signed a “multi-party term sheet agreement” to commit to the new league.’
SFA athletic director Ryan Ivey told WAC Hoops Digest a few weeks ago the reason for the plan.
“The plan is to create a football-only league similar to the Missouri Valley Football League so we can solidify football scheduling and our AQ moving forward. All other sports will stay in our respective multi-sport conference.”
Ivey also mentioned that they have been talking about this for a while.
With Sam Houston moving to the FBS ranks, the WAC was left with the five football schools. And both the WAC and ASUN football schools have been partners in the WAC-ASUN Challenge in order to keep an automatic bid for the schools.
Thamel also said in the report that ‘multiple presidents from the league informed NCAA officials of the schools’ collective interest in forming a new FBS league.’
That decision is uncertain considering there is a Moratorium in NCAA Division I on single-sport conferences. But sources told Thamel they are optimistic of a pathway and that they are confident NCAA officials would support that decision.
Here is a little snippet from Thamel’s report regarding that move from FCS to FBS.
Generally, for FCS schools to jump to the FBS, there is a two-year transition period, which includes NCAA Division I board of directors approval. According to the NCAA handbook, “Before a [FCS] institution may apply for reclassification for the [FBS] the institution must receive a bona fide invitation for membership from a [FBS] conference or a conference that previously met the definition of a FBS conference.”
Per the report, Thamel also mentions ‘league officials have begun early conversations with at least four other high-profile FCS football programs.’
For those wondering, this does not mean the WAC is going to fold. All other sports will continue to compete as members of the WAC. This is just an opportunity for more stability among the football schools in both the WAC and the ASUN.