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GCU believes basketball gets boost from WAC additions

(Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

The Western Athletic Conference on Thursday announced the addition of four teams formerly of the Southland Conference, plus the addition of one Big Sky team.

Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin will join the WAC for the 2021-22 academic year, while Southern Utah out of the Big Sky will follow them to the conference in 2022-23.

While that changes the 13-team league’s football landscape, the Grand Canyon Antelopes — who do not have a football team — said the additions boost the WAC’s basketball prospects.

“Particularly in basketball, GCU has had the makings of a top-20 program because of its incredible facilities, a game atmosphere that is second to none, a Power Five coaching staff, a competitive mid-major budget and a location as a destination city,” GCU President Brian Mueller said in a school release. “The last step was participation in a strong athletic conference and this expansion accomplishes that. This is a giant leap forward in our Division I journey.

“This is one of the biggest mid-major expansions in NCAA realignment history and puts the WAC in a very strong position moving forward.”