The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has submitted a letter of intent to begin an FCS football program within five years, according to an email obtained by Texas Football.
UTRGV is targeting the 2023 season to begin a program, according to the email, and is expected to begin the program by 2024. The news comes on the same day that the Western Athletic Conference is expected to announce the return of football.
Administration at UTRGV minimized the commitment, noting that the school is simply at the beginning of a long process and that there is no timeline or commitment.
The creation of a football program has long been rumored in the football-crazed Rio Grande Valley with studies being done to estimate cost. However, the university had not committed to investing in a Division I football program until the WAC opted to bring back football. The original study looked into the cost of adding an FBS program, while joining the WAC now would certainly be at the cheaper FCS level.
UTRGV will join as a member of the WAC, where the Vaqueros currently participate in all other sports. Other Texas schools joining the WAC as football members include Lamar, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian and Tarleton. The former Southland Conference schools will join the conference on July 1, 2021, in time for the Fall 2021 football season.
The WAC will split its 13 teams into two divisions with a Southwest Division centered in Texas. The league plans to find at least one more football-playing member, likely in Texas.
The WAC is holding a press conference on Thursday to officially announce the new additions.
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