July 14, 2011
UTA is the second non-football member the conference has added in the past month, but the upside is that UTA has not ruled out adding a football program.
"I think today demonstrates that we definitely have a strong foundation," Benson said. "The WAC looks much more attractive today than it did three months ago or six months ago. That's what we're going to play on as we go out and try to secure two football-playing schools."
The Mavericks actually played football until 1985 season when the school decided it was not financially feasible to keep the program. However, the university does have a 12,500-seat multipurpose stadium on campus, which is mostly used for high school football during the fall. UTA president Jim Spaniolo said discussions about rekindling the football program would come after College Park Center, a $78 million, 7,000-seat special events center was finished later this year to house the basketball program.
Even though the addition of football is not definite, UTA does give the WAC one of the nation's five largest media markets and it should appease the conference's other central time zone teams -- Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana Tech.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said that while he hopes UTA will look into adding football, the conference is still identifying football-playing schools in both the FBS and FCS. For the 2012 season, the WAC will have 10 members, but only seven football-playing schools.
"We definitely need to focus in on the football piece," Benson said. "We think that this addition of UT-Arlington is one more piece of the structure and that it puts us in a position to now know that we're two schools away from that No. 12. Without ruling anyone out, we are going to spend our time now really focusing and attempting to secure football-playing members.
"Right now, any FBS, any FCS school that is in our footprint, and the footprint is Texas, Louisiana and the states in the West, we have not ruled anyone out."