ASUN, WAC renew football alliance | Sports

ATLANTA, Georgia — The ASUN Conference and Western Athletic Conference have agreed to renew their football alliance for the 2022 fall football season.

Originally presented as the ASUN-WAC Challenge in 2021, the agreement allowed for seven institutions — three ASUN members and four WAC members — to build a new AQ (automatic qualification) opportunity into the 2021 NCAA FCS Playoffs.

The renewal includes all 10 FCS playoff eligible teams in the combined ASUN-WAC membership.

The ASUN five include Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Kennesaw State and North Alabama; the WAC five include Abilene Christian, Lamar, Stephen F. Austin, Southern Utah, and University of the Incarnate Word.

Both the ASUN and the WAC reached the pivotal six-team AQ eligibility threshold with expansion announcements this past academic year.

That changed with the November announcement that Jacksonville State (ASUN) and Sam Houston (WAC) would be transitioning to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and joining Conference USA.

Both institutions are now ineligible for the FCS Playoffs under NCAA rules.

“The ASUN and the WAC made history this past year with the creation of a new AQ through a collaborative partnership,” ASUN commissioner Ted Gumbart said. “Extending it to ensure the AQ opportunity we created is available to all the partners that helped build it makes great sense, especially under the primary ASUN Beam: Students First. The WAC has outstanding football and we look forward to extending our ASUN-WAC partnership.”

The coming season will be the first for a full ASUN football schedule.

Both the ASUN and the WAC will play a full season among their own members, and both will have their own honors, awards and championship hardware.

One of the two group winners will earn the ASUN-WAC AQ. Final policy to govern the AQ recipient will be determined in the coming weeks.

The 2022 fall season will be the first in which ASUN member North Alabama will be eligible for an AQ, having completed the four-year reclassification process.

The WAC has two members, Utah Tech (formerly Dixie State) and Tarleton State, entering year three of the reclassification process. While the ASUN and WAC are both strong supporters of extending AQ eligibility to third-year reclassifying schools — such as Bellarmine in the ASUN — the ASUN recognizes this outcome would not change the ASUN-WAC FCS AQ status for this coming fall.

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