The WAC or Western Athletic Conference is an American collegiate athletic conference, which was formed on July 27, 1962, making it the sixth oldest of the 11 college athletic conferences currently participating in the NCAA's Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A). The WAC is a non-automatic qualifier member of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) selection system.


The WAC formed out of a series of talks between Brigham Young University athletic director Eddie Kimball and other university administrators from 1958 to 1961 to form a new athletic conference that would better fit the needs and situations of certain universities which were at the time members of the Border, Skyline, and Pacific Coast Conferences. Potential member universities who were represented at the meetings included BYU, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Arizona State, and Wyoming. While the three Washington and Oregon schools elected to stay in a revamped Pac-8 Conference that replaced the scandal-plagued PCC, the remaining six schools formed the WAC, forcing the disbandment of the Border and Skyline conferences. The charter members of the WAC were Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. New Mexico State and Utah State applied for charter membership and were turned down; they would eventually become WAC members 43 years later.

First ExpansionEdit

The conference proved to be an almost perfect fit for the six schools from both a competitive and financial standpoint. Arizona and Arizona State, in particular, experienced success in baseball with Arizona garnering the 1963 College World Series runner-up trophy and ASU winning the CWS in 1965, 1967, and 1969. Texas-El Paso (UTEP), recently renamed from Texas Western College, and Colorado State joined in 1967 to bring membership up to eight.

With massive growth in the state of Arizona, the balance of WAC play in the 1970s became increasingly skewed in favor of the Arizona schools, who won or tied for all but two WAC football titles from 1969 onward. In the summer of 1978, the two schools left the WAC for the Pac-8, which became the Pac-10, and were replaced in the WAC by San Diego State and, one year later, Hawaii. The WAC further expanded by adding Air Force in the summer of 1980. A college football national championship won by Brigham Young in 1984 added to the WAC's reputation as the best of the so-called mid-major conferences. This nine-team line-up of the WAC defined the conference for nearly 15 years.

Second wave of expansion and turbulenceEdit

Fresno State expanded its athletic program in the early 1990s and was granted membership in 1992 as the nationwide trend against major college programs independent of conferences accelerated. The WAC merged with the High Country Athletic Conference, a parallel organization to the WAC for women's athletics, in 1990 to unify both men's and women's athletics under one administrative structure.

In 1996, the WAC expanded again, adding six schools to its ranks for a total of sixteen. Rice, TCU, and SMU joined the league from the Southwest Conference, which had disbanded. Big West Conference members San Jose State and UNLV were also admitted, as well as Tulsa from the Missouri Valley Conference. With the expansion, the WAC was divided into two divisions.

To help in organizing schedules and travel for the farflung league, the members were divided into four quadrants of four teams each, as follows:

Quadrant 1

Quadrant 2

Quadrant 3

Quadrant 4





Fresno State

Air Force



San Diego State

Colorado State

New Mexico


San Jose State




Quadrant one was always part of the Pacific Division, and quadrant four was always part of the Mountain Division. Quadrant two was part of the Pacific Division for 1996 and 1997 before switching to the Mountain Division in 1998, while the reverse was true for quadrant three. The scheduled fourth year of the alignment was abandoned after eight schools left to form the Mountain West Conference.

The division champions in football met from 1996 to 1998 in a championship game at Sam Boyd Stadium (also known as the Silver Bowl) in Henderson, Nevada.

Increasingly, this arrangement was not satisfactory to most of the older, pre-1990 members. Five members in particular (Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Utah, and Wyoming) felt that WAC expansion had compromised the athletic and academic excellence of the membership. Additional concerns centered around finances, as the new league stretched from Hawaiʻi to Oklahoma and travel costs became a concern. In 1999, those five schools, along with old line WAC schools New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as newcomer UNLV, split off and formed the new Mountain West Conference.

WAC Championships

BYU won 19 Conference Championships while They were in the WAC.

See: List of WAC Championships