Many have wondered and now an answer has been given. With UMKC bolting back to the Summit League beginning in the 2020-21 season, the Western Athletic Conference had a void to fill.
And fill it they have, according to a report by KLST News weekend sports anchor Ryan Reynolds. According to a tweet from Reynolds, Tarleton State University is set to join the WAC beginning in 2020-21.
BREAKING: Tarleton State is making the jump to Division I and will join the WAC next season. Tarleton Football will play in the FCS as an independent, per @asuradiovoice later confirmed by @LoneStarConf. pic.twitter.com/uQLrDHSVUG
— Ryan Reynolds (@RPRTalks) September 30, 2019
The Texans have a football team and the tweet says they will compete as an FCS Independent. Tarleton State currently competes in the Lone Star Conference at the NCAA Division II level.
The Texans finished 21-10 last season and lost to top-seeded West Texas A&M in the conference semifinals. Tarleton State has reached the NCAA Regional Tournament 14 out of the last 18 years. And their worst record since 2013-14 is 19-11, which they finished in 2017-18. Head coach Chris Reisman is heading into his second season as head coach. However, Reisman has been at Tarleton State as a coach for 18 seasons overall.
Tarleton State has six men’s sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, and both indoor and outdoor track and field. The Texans also field eight women’s sports: basketball, cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track and field, softball, tennis and volleyball.
The Tarleton State football team currently sits at 4-0 and sports a win over Division I foe Stephen F. Austin.
Tarleton State is located about an hour and a half southwest of Dallas in Stephenville, Texas. Perhaps the move was to offset UMKC leaving. But perhaps it was also to give UTRGV, which is in Edinburg, Texas, a traveling partner.
Either way, the WAC is adding another school, according to the report. The Texans will have to go through the four-year reclassification to Division I. With this happening, it means the WAC will have a two-year grace period where it can keep the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with only six eligible teams. By rule, conference have to have a minimum of seven eligible teams. But the WAC will get a grace period as they wait for California Baptist to complete its four-year reclassification period.
Update – October 1, 2019
After news broke that Tarleton State would be joining the WAC for the 2020-21 season, Tarleton Athletics released a statement.
Breaking News: Statement from Tarleton State University President Dr. James Hurley pic.twitter.com/gXyFXluWfW
— Tarleton Athletics (@TarletonSports) October 1, 2019
It appears that WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd officially invited Tarleton State to join the WAC. And now the Texans are in the “process of moving forward with the invitation.”