ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – Dixie State University made a huge announcement Friday about the future of its athletics program.
The school announced it will begin the transition to NCAA Division I and join the Western Athletic Conference in the 2020-2021 season.
The announcement was made in front of a standing-room-only crowd inside the DSU Student Activities Center. The event was emceed by DSU Athletic Hall of Famer and former NBA great Lionel Hollins and was attended by Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd, and other dignitaries.
“We are strong institutionally, we are strong academically, and we are strong athletically which is why we are ready to make the move to Division I status and join the Western Athletic Conference,” Dixie State President Richard B. Williams said at a news conference.
Commissioner Hurd said President Williams’ long-term vision for the university’s growth is another reason DSU a great fit for the conference.
“I have no doubt that Dixie State will make a smooth transition to Division I and to the WAC,” said Hurd.
Dixie State will become the ninth member of the conference 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’s new membership in the WAC will be great for collegiate athletics in Utah and for the fans of both universities,” said Utah Valley Athletic Director Vince Otoupal. “It will also be really fun to rekindle our old junior college rivalry from the ’80s and ’90s, which I’m sure will spark many fond memories from our alumni.”
Dixie State will officially apply for NCAA Division I status in June of 2020. Upon completion of the four-year reclassification process, the Trailblazers will be eligible for NCAA Division I postseason play beginning in the 2024-25 season.
School officials also announced a $1 million gift from Denis and Diane Lyman, of St. George, to begin renovations on the DSU Softball Complex (Karl Brooks Field).
On the heels of the announcement, Southern Utah University football announced a three-game series with Dixie State which will begin on September 5, 2020. The first game in the series will be played in Cedar City.