Seattle University has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), effective for the 2012-13 athletic season.

"We are pleased to be joining the WAC," said Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. "We are honored by the invitation as it reflects the strides and achievements we have made in Division I intercollegiate athletics. Our membership in the WAC will move us closer to our goal of building championship programs, especially for basketball fans.

"The WAC has provided some of the nation's best intercollegiate competition for nearly a half-century," said Sundborg. "By taking this step, we are providing our fans outstanding rivalries, and we give our teams a direct path to conference championships and NCAA Division I postseason competition.

"I am also confident that our membership in the WAC is in the best interest of our students and our university as a whole," added Sundborg. "The WAC's vision is to be recognized as one of the premier conferences in the country, distinguished by integrity, success in both academics and athletics, and sportsmanship. Holding to these very same ideals, Seattle University is enthusiastic to partner with the WAC."

SU will begin competing in the WAC in 17 sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's outdoor track and field, women's soccer, softball, women's swimming, men's and women's tennis, and volleyball.

SU will be the ninth school in the WAC, joining University of Denver, University of Idaho, Utah State University, San Jose State University, University of Texas-San Antonio, Texas State University, Louisiana Tech University, and New Mexico State University. The Redhawks will be eligible to compete for conference championships and automatic bids to NCAA postseason competition beginning next year.

"We are pleased to announce that Seattle University is joining the WAC," Karl Benson, WAC Commissioner, said. "Seattle's tradition and history, along with a strong commitment to its program and facilities, make the university and its top-15 media market a great fit for the WAC. We look forward to a beneficial and successful relationship."

The two sports sponsored by SU but not by the WAC, men's soccer and men's swimming, will remain in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The other sports currently enjoying a conference home will remain in their current conference for the 2011-12 academic year before moving to the WAC.

This fall, SU heads into year four of the NCAA Division I reclassification process, the final year before gaining full Division I membership in 2012-13.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit Catholic university located on 50 acres in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. More than 7,800 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within the eight schools and colleges. U.S. News and World Report's "Best Colleges 2011" ranks SU among the top 10 universities in the West that offer a full range of masters and undergraduate degree programs.

Western Athletic Conference Release (

Seattle Times Sports front page story

More in Athletics