UTRGV To Join Southland in 2024

The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is leaving the Western Athletic Conference to join the Southland Conference beginning with the 2024-25 academic year according to Pete Thamel. UTRGV will pay a $2 million exit fee to the WAC.

The Vaqueros announced the start of a football program in late 2022 and were originally expected to play their first season in 2025 as a member of the WAC. That later changed to the United Athletic Conference in 2023 when the football-playing members of the WAC and Atlantic Sun formed a football-only conference. With the most recent update, the Vaqueros are set to have a third conference change before playing a single snap at the FCS level in 2025.

Assuming no defections occur, the Southland will have 9 football-playing members in 2025 when UTRGV begins playing football. Texas has been a hotly contested region at the FCS level with Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin (along with Central Arkansas) leaving the Southland to join the reformed WAC in 2021. Incarnate Word was set to follow those four in 2022 but had a change of heart and opted to remain in the Southland. Lamar returned to the Southland in 2022 as well giving the Southland a much-needed boost.

The UAC will have 10 members in 2025 assuming no defections although the tenuous nature of realignment is always hanging over the FCS. One member – West Georgiawill be reclassifying from Division II in a process that will take four academic years to complete. The Wolves will be eligible for the FCS Playoffs beginning in 2028.

Photo Credit to the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley Athletics

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