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Utah Valley University makes its pitch to join WAC

Published June 13, 2011 11:53 pm

Expansion • Conference likely to decide Tuesday if it'll add Utah Valley, Seattle.
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Park City • Utah Valley University has made its case for inclusion into the Western Athletic Conference.

Now, all it can do is wait for the results.

In a 30-minute presentation Monday afternoon before the WAC Board of Directors, Utah Valley President Matthew Holland spoke for 20 minutes of his school's prime location, growing academic curriculum and the success of the basketball program in the Great West Conference.

Following that, he took questions from the presidents, a group that included Utah State University's Stan Albrecht. He left the Waldorf Astoria in Park City scarcely an hour after he arrived.

"I feel good," Holland said. "I feel like we put our best foot forward, and that it was essential for us to be here and have a chance to state our case. We feel as if we make a great partner with the WAC. I'll be by the phone awaiting the decision."

Seattle, along with Utah Valley, made its pitch before the WAC. Along with those two, California-Bakersfield made a presentation via satellite. A decision, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned, is expected Tuesday by 2 p.m. at the latest. By then, the conference could decide to invite Utah Valley or Seattle. It could decide to invite both, or it could elect to stay put and not expand.

Neither Seattle nor UVU would enter the WAC as a football school. Holland told The Tribune that while football isn't off the table, starting the sport isn't in the immediate plans, either.

Utah Valley, a former community college in Orem, instead is focusing on its growth as an academic institution, specifically its bachelor's and master's programs. Holland is focusing on expanding facilities at his school and on raising the profile of his school.

Holland said that UVU has expanded as a school so much and so fast that the school "snuck up" on people who hadn't seen Utah Valley as a viable candidate for a major conference.

"We've only been a university for two years," Holland said. "It's almost like people were caught off-guard by our growth."

Seattle University can argue the same thing. As a basketball program, Seattle's got a much deeper tradition than Utah Valley, having sent multiple players to the NBA over the years, with Elgin Baylor being its most famous alum.

The school competed as a Division I university from 1950 to 1971. Then it dropped to the NAIA level before climbing up to Division II in 2002. Now, in its third year of a four-year reclassification back to Division I, Seattle would be fully eligible to compete in the postseason in the 2012-2013 season.

In its presentation, Seattle's president, Stephen Sundborg, pitched the recent success of his hoops program, along with a television market that's among the best on the West Coast.

"We're excited about the fact that we were invited and had the chance to come down and make a presentation," Sundborg said. "We learned about the invite three weeks ago, so it was good to come here and meet with the board. We feel like we would bring a very good partnership to the conference."


Twitter: @tonyaggieville —

Wolverines in the WAC?

• Seattle and Utah Valley University both made presentations Monday to the WAC board of directors. Cal State-Bakersfield made its presentation via satellite.

• A decision is expected by Tuesday afternoon. Will the WAC add UVU, Seattle, both or neither?




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