Jeff Hurd, commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference, will step down at the end of the 2021 calendar year after 10 years in the position. He announced his decision just six days after the Texas Four officially joined the WAC.
"I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished during my tenure, and the WAC always will be a part of me," Hurd said in a statement. "I know the Conference is very well positioned to move forward."
Hurd took over the WAC as the league dropped football for the first time in 51 years as many of the final FBS members left for the Mountain West and Conference USA. However, under Hurd's leadership, the WAC has reinvented itself as an FCS conference with a strong basketball presence.
The WAC added Tarleton as a transitioning Division I member last season, along with fellow transitioning school Dixie State. Then, the WAC pulled off a coup by nabbing the "Texas Four" – Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian, Lamar and defending national champion Sam Houston – from the Southland Conference.
In fact, out of 13 members that will participate in the 2021-22 school year, 11 have entered since Hurd has taken over as commissioner. Southern Utah will join the year after, while Chicago State will depart.
The league is expected to eye a few more membership moves over the next year. The WAC needs at least one more playoff-eligible member by 2022-23 in order to earn an auto-bid to the football FCS Playoffs. The league is getting around it this season with a scheduling partnership with three future A-Sun schools.
Hurd joined the WAC in 1985 as director of conference relations and worked his way up to the top spot. He took over in an interim basis after Karl Benson left, and was later granted the permanent role. Hurd is the chair of the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel and completed a term on the NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee in 2021.
The WAC has not announced a process for finding its next commissioner as yet.
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