United Athletic Conference
FormerlyWAC–ASUN Challenge (2021–2022)
ASUN–WAC Football Conference (2022–2023)
FoundedFebruary 23, 2021; 2 years ago (2021-02-23) (Unofficially)
July 1, 2023; 37 days ago (2023-07-01) (Officially)
CommissionerOliver Luck (since 2023)
Sports fielded
  • 1
    • men's: 1
    • women's: 0
DivisionDivision I
SubdivisionFCS (football)
No. of teams9 (10 in 2025)
RegionSouthwestern United States
Western United States
Southern United States
Location of teams in (({title))}

The United Athletic Conference (UAC) is an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conference. The conference will be a merger of the existing football leagues of the ASUN Conference and Western Athletic Conference. The UAC will cover the southwestern, western, and southern United States with member institutions located in Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.


Western Athletic Conference

On January 14, 2021, the WAC announced its intention to reinstate football as a conference-sponsored sport at the FCS level, as well as the addition of five new members to the conference in all sports, including football.[1] The new members announced include the "Texas Four" of Abilene Christian University, Lamar University, Sam Houston State University, and Stephen F. Austin State University, then members of the Southland Conference, along with Southern Utah University, from the Big Sky Conference. Originally, all schools were planned to join in July 2022, but the entry of the Texas Four was moved to July 2021 after the Southland expelled its departing members.[2] The WAC also announced that it would most likely add another football-playing institution at a later date.

On the same day, news broke that the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a non-football playing WAC member, had committed to create an FCS football program by 2024.[3] UTRGV eventually delayed its first football season to 2025.

The WAC ultimately partnered with the ASUN Conference to reestablish its football league, with the Texas Four being joined by three incoming ASUN members for at least the fall 2021 season in what it calls the ASUN–WAC (or WAC–ASUN) Challenge.[4][5] The Challenge was abbreviated as "AQ7", as the top finisher of the seven teams would be an automatic qualifier for the FCS postseason.[6] The two conferences renewed their alliance for the 2022 season, although both leagues will conduct separate conference seasons and then choose the alliance's automatic qualifier by an as-yet-undetermined process. Both the WAC and ASUN initially planned to have 6 playoff-eligible teams in 2022, but each lost such a member with the start of FBS transitions by Jacksonville State and Sam Houston.

See also: 2021 NCAA Division I FCS football season § Membership changes

On November 5, 2021, it was reported that New Mexico State (an FBS Independent) and Sam Houston would be leaving the WAC for Conference USA in 2023.[7] The WAC responded by adding, football playing, Incarnate Word from the Southland Conference and non-football school, UT Arlington from the Sun Belt Conference; however, UIW later reversed course and decided to stay with the SLC only days before the 2022-23 athletic season officially began.[8][9] Lamar also announced that it too would return to its former home of the Southland Conference in 2023 roughly three months prior to UIW's announcement, on April 8, 2022; however, three months later, it was announced that the SLC and Lamar would be accelerating the rejoining process so that Lamar could return for the 2022 athletic season instead.[10][11]

The WAC has been speculated to move back up to FBS in the future following the reestablishment of the football conference at the FCS level.[12]

ASUN Conference

The ASUN Conference announced that it would be adding the University of Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky University, and former member Jacksonville State University, as incoming members on January 29, 2021, with the intent of sponsoring football in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 2022.[13] However, with these three schools joining in 2021, the league partnered with another conference beginning to sponsor football also in 2022, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), to allow the three teams to join the WAC as football affiliates for 2021, branding it interchangeably as the "ASUN–WAC Challenge" and "WAC–ASUN Challenge"; the two leagues will receive a combined bid to the FCS playoffs.[4][5]

As soon as it was announced, however, the football league was thrown into jeopardy, as Jacksonville State announced it would be leaving once again in 2023 for Conference USA, an FBS conference. Liberty University was also invited to C-USA for 2023, but had already competed as an FBS independent for some time and was not included in the ASUN's new football league.[14] With the WAC also losing Sam Houston, another football-sponsoring school, to C-USA, the two conferences announced they would be renewing their alliance for the 2022 season.[15] On September 17, 2021, the ASUN announced Austin Peay State University, a football-sponsoring school, as a new member for the 2022–23 season.[16]


ESPN reported on December 9, 2022 that the ASUN and WAC had agreed to form a new football-only conference that plans to start play in 2024. The initial membership would consist of Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, and North Alabama from the ASUN, and Abilene Christian, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Tarleton, and Utah Tech from the WAC. UTRGV would become the 10th member upon its planned addition of football in 2025. The new football conference also reportedly plans to move "from what is currently known as FCS football to what is currently known as FBS football at the earliest practicable date."[17] On December 20, the two conferences confirmed the football merger, announcing that the new football league would start play in 2023 under the tentative name of "ASUN–WAC Football Conference". The new football league will play a six-game schedule before starting full round-robin conference play in 2024. Neither conference's announcement mentioned any plans to move to FBS.[18][19]

The ASUN and WAC jointly announced on January 5, 2023 that the football conference had set up a basic governing structure and had hired Oliver Luck as executive director.[20]

On April 17, 2023, ASUN-WAC Football Partnership formally rebranded as the United Athletic Conference.[21] The UAC's waiver request to be recognized as a single-sport FCS football conference was denied by the NCAA later the same month.[22]

United Athletic Conference is located in the United States
Utah Tech
Utah Tech
Abilene Christian
Abilene Christian
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Southern Utah
Southern Utah
Central Arkansas
Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky
North Alabama
North Alabama
Austin Peay
Austin Peay
Locations of United Athletic Conference members beginning in 2023. ( – inaugural; – joining 2025)

Member schools

Current members

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment Nickname Colors Primary
Abilene Christian University Abilene, Texas 1906 2021 Private
(Church of Christ)
5,731 Wildcats     WAC
Austin Peay State University Clarksville, Tennessee 1927 2022 Public 9,609 Governors     ASUN
University of Central Arkansas Conway, Arkansas 1907 2021 9,913 Bears    
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, Kentucky 1874 13,984 Colonels    
University of North Alabama Florence, Alabama 1830 2022 11,056 Lions    
Southern Utah University Cedar City, Utah 1897 14,330 Thunderbirds     WAC
Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, Texas 1923 2021 11,327 Lumberjacks    
Tarleton State University Stephenville, Texas 1899 2023 13,995 Texans    
Utah Tech University St. George, Utah 1911 12,556 Trailblazers      

Future members

Team Location Founded Joining Nickname Current
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Brownsville & Edinburg, Texas[a] 1930 2025 Vaqueros WAC

Former members

Team Location Nickname Joined[b] Departed Current
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama Gamecocks 2021 2022[c] C-USA
Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, Georgia Owls 2022 2023 ASUN
(C-USA in 2024)
FCS Independent
(C-USA in 2024)
Lamar University Beaumont, Texas Cardinals 2021 2022 Southland
Sam Houston State University Huntsville, Texas Bearkats 2021 2022[c] C-USA

Membership timeline

University of Texas, Rio Grande ValleyUtah Tech UniversityWestern Athletic ConferenceNCAA Division I FCS Independent SchoolsTarleton State UniversityWestern Athletic ConferenceNCAA Division I FCS Independent SchoolsSouthern Utah UniversityBig Sky ConferenceUniversity of North AlabamaBig South ConferenceConference USANCAA Division I FCS independent schoolsKennesaw State UniversityBig South ConferenceAustin Peay UniversityOhio Valley ConferenceSouthland ConferenceStephen F. Austin UniversitySouthland ConferenceConference USAWestern Athletic ConferenceSam Houston State UniversitySouthland ConferenceSouthland ConferenceLamar UniversitySouthland ConferenceConference USAASUN ConferenceJacksonville State UniversityOhio Valley ConferenceEastern Kentucky UniversityOhio Valley ConferenceUniversity of Central ArkansasSouthland ConferenceAbilene Christian UniversitySouthland Conference

Full members Other Conference Other Conference


2021 WAC–ASUN Challenge football standings
Conf Overall
Team   W   L     W   L  
No. 5 Sam Houston $^   6 0     11 1  
No. 21 Stephen F. Austin ^   4 2     8 4  
Eastern Kentucky   4 2     7 4  
Central Arkansas   3 3     5 6  
Jacksonville State   3 3     5 6  
Abilene Christian   1 5     5 6  
Lamar   0 6     1 9  
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – FCS playoff participant
Rankings from STATS Poll
2022 WAC–ASUN Challenge football standings
Conf Overall
Team   W   L     W   L  
Eastern Kentucky $^   4 1     7 5  
Central Arkansas   4 1     5 6  
Austin Peay   3 1     7 4  
Stephen F. Austin   2 1     6 5  
Abilene Christian   1 1     7 4  
Kennesaw State   1 3     5 6  
Southern Utah   0 3     5 6  
North Alabama   0 4     1 10  
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – FCS playoff participant
Rankings from STATS Poll
2023 United Athletic Conference standings
Conf Overall
Team   W   L     W   L  
Abilene Christian   0 0     0 0  
Austin Peay   0 0     0 0  
Central Arkansas   0 0     0 0  
No. 24 Eastern Kentucky   0 0     0 0  
North Alabama   0 0     0 0  
Southern Utah   0 0     0 0  
Stephen F. Austin   0 0     0 0  
Tarleton*   0 0     0 0  
Utah Tech*   0 0     0 0  
  • $ – Conference champion
  • Note: Tarleton State and Utah Tech are ineligible for the UAC title and FCS postseason play due to transitions from NCAA Division II.
Rankings from STATS Poll

Conference facilities

School Football stadium Capacity
Abilene Christian Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium 12,000
Austin Peay Fortera Stadium 10,100
Central Arkansas Estes Stadium 10,000
Eastern Kentucky Roy Kidd Stadium 20,000
North Alabama Braly Municipal Stadium 14,215
Southern Utah Eccles Coliseum 8,500
Stephen F. Austin Homer Bryce Stadium 14,575
Tarleton Memorial Stadium 10,000
Utah Tech Greater Zion Stadium 10,000[24]


  1. ^ While UTRGV has multiple campuses within its service area, its athletic program is based at the Edinburg campus, which it inherited from its athletic predecessor, the University of Texas–Pan American. The football team plans to play home games in both Brownsville (home to a UTRGV campus inherited from the University of Texas at Brownsville) and Edinburg; when UTRGV confirmed the addition of football in late 2022, it committed to establishing separate marching bands and spirit programs for the two campuses.[23]
  2. ^ The United Athletic Conference will officially begin in the 2023 season. The year joined reflects when the program joined the UAC or WAC-ASUN Challenge as a whole.
  3. ^ a b The ASUN Conference and Western Athletic Conference both held individual conference schedules (WAC 2021-22, ASUN 2022 only) which included schools that were ineligible for the FCS postseason due to D-II or FBS transitions.
    • Tarleton and Utah Tech transitioned from Division II and therefore played only in the WAC in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
    • Sam Houston and Jacksonville State began transitioning to FBS and therefore played in the WAC and ASUN, respectively, for the 2022 season.


  1. ^ "WAC Announces Expansion, Plans to Reinstate Football". Western Athletic Conference (Press release). 14 January 2021.
  2. ^ Blum, Sam (January 14, 2021). "As WAC announces addition of 5 schools, Frisco-based Southland Conference left in no man's land". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  3. ^ Jeyarajah, Shehan. "UTRGV commits to add FCS football by 2024". Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b "ASUN, WAC Conferences Announce Football Partnership for 2021" (Press release). ASUN Conference. February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "From the Commissioner's Desk: @ASUN_Football Update" (Press release). ASUN Conference. February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  6. ^ "FCS college football 2021: AQ7 preview". KRQE. Stats Perform. August 20, 2021. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  7. ^ "C-USA picks Liberty among four new additions". ESPN. 5 November 2021.
  8. ^ "University of Texas at Arlington Accepts Invitation to Join WAC". WAC (Press release). 21 January 2022.
  9. ^ "UNIVERSITY OF THE INCARNATE WORD STAYING IN THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE" (Press release). Southland Conference. June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  10. ^ "Lamar University Is Coming Home to the Southland Conference" (Press release). Southland Conference. April 8, 2022. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  11. ^ Thomas Scott (July 11, 2022). "Lamar moving to Southland Conference -- immediately". Hearst. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  12. ^ Deaver, Colin (7 January 2021). "Reports: WAC football to return in 2022, rise to FBS later in decade". KTSM.com. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  13. ^ "ASUN Conference Announces Three New Institutions; Adds Football as 20th Sport" (Press release). ASUN Conference. January 29, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  14. ^ "Conference USA to add Liberty, Jacksonville State, New Mexico State, Sam Houston State beginning in 2023". ESPN.
  15. ^ "ASUN and WAC Renew Football Alliance" (Press release). ASUN Conference. May 18, 2022. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
  16. ^ "ASUN Conference Welcomes Austin Peay State University as its Newest Member" (Press release). ASUN Conference. September 17, 2021. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  17. ^ Thamel, Pete (December 9, 2022). "Atlantic Sun, WAC teams pairing up to attempt move to FBS, sources say". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  18. ^ "@ASUN_Football and WAC Release 2023 Schedule" (Press release). ASUN Conference. December 20, 2022. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  19. ^ "ASUN And WAC Unveil 2023 Football Schedule" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. December 20, 2022. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  20. ^ "ASUN-WAC Football Names Executive Director and New Conference Structure" (Press release). ASUN Conference. January 5, 2023. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  21. ^ "ASUN-WAC Football Partnership Formally Rebrands As The United Athletic Conference" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. April 17, 2023. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  22. ^ Vannini, Chris (April 27, 2023). "NCAA denies United Athletic Conference's waiver request to be single-sport conference". The Athletic. Archived from the original on July 5, 2023. Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  23. ^ "UTRGV announces approval of football, women's aquatics, band, spirit programs" (Press release). UTRGV Vaqueros. November 18, 2022. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  24. ^ "University Quick Facts" (PDF). 2018 Dixie State Men's Soccer Media Guide. Dixie State Trailblazers. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2019.