ST. GEORGE, Utah – Dixie State University has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference effective July 1, 2020, DSU and WAC officials announced today at a joint news conference. The invitation is contingent upon DSU completing the reclassification process from NCAA Division II to Division I. The Trailblazers will begin WAC regular season competition during the 2020-21 school year.
"Several factors make Dixie State University a great fit for the WAC," Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. "Commitment to quality
academics and athletics programs, along with the long-term vision that President Williams has for the University's growth, are at the top of the list. I have no doubt that Dixie State will make a smooth transition to Division I and to the WAC."
The Trailblazers, which have won one Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship in just one season of membership, won 20 PacWest team championships in 11 seasons. They were also four-time PacWest Community Engagement award winners.
"Dixie State University is located in the fastest growing city in America and in a state that is supporting higher education at unprecedented levels," said Brian Mueller, President of Grand Canyon University and Chairman of the WAC's Board of Directors. "The university has a growing student body and is investing in excellence in their academic and athletic programs. They have some outstanding athletic facilities, including a Division I level basketball arena. Like Grand Canyon and California Baptist, Dixie State will be competitive immediately and will be a strong contributor to the continued growth of the Western Athletic Conference."
Dixie State will become the ninth member of the conference in 2020-21, joining California Baptist University; Chicago State University; Grand Canyon University; the University of Missouri-Kansas City; New Mexico State University; Seattle University; The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; and Utah Valley University.
Dixie State will not be eligible for WAC postseason competition in any sport in which the winner is the league's automatic qualifier for an NCAA championship (baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, women's soccer, softball, men's tennis, women's tennis and volleyball). Dixie State will be eligible for cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field conference championships beginning in 2020-21. Dixie State may participate individually in the WAC Men's and Women's Golf Championships beginning in 2021, but only as unattached entries. In the sport of golf, Dixie State will not be eligible for the league's automatic team or individual qualifier to the NCAA Division I Men's or Women's Championship. In addition, Dixie State will be immediately eligible to win regular-season titles in all sports sponsored by the WAC.
About Dixie State
Established in 1911, Dixie State began as a two-year institution and gained four-year status and approval to offer its first two bachelor's degrees in 1999. Today, the University offers 44 distinctive bachelor's degrees, representing a 2,100 percent growth in just two decades. In addition to bachelor's degrees, DSU started offering its first graduate program – a Master of Accountancy – this academic year. The University maintains its community college mission by offering 15 associate majors and 22 certificate/endorsement programs. Taking the available emphases and minors into consideration, the University offers nearly 200 academic programs in total. This past semester (Fall 2018) DSU had 9,950 students, which represents a 16 percent increase in students in the last three years and a 54 percent increase in the last decade.
About St. George, Utah
Located in the southwestern part of the state on the Arizona border, the city is 118 miles northeast of Las Vegas and 300 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. St. George is well known for its year-round warm weather, golf courses and proximity to several state and national parks. In March 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau reported St. George as the fastest-growing metro area in the nation. In 2017, an estimated 165,662 people lived in the area, up four percent from 2016.