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Denver Pioneers announce move to Summit League in 2013

After only one year in the WAC, the school is departing to join a more stable conference.

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

After a 13-year stint in the Sun Belt Conference, the University of Denver seemingly moved up when they joined the WAC in 2012.

However, with conference re-alignment leaving the WAC perilously close to dissolving, the school announced on Tuesday that it would be moving its athletic department to the nine-team Summit League, comprised mainly of small public schools in the Midwest.

Denver's new conference rivals include Oakland (Minnesota), North Dakota and South Dakota State, Fort Wayne (Indiana), Western Illinois, University of Missouri-Kansas City, IUPUI and Nebraska-Omaha. The Pioneers will be immediately eligible to compete in Summit League competitions in the 2013 season.

The move will not affect the Pioneers hockey program, as the Summit League does not offer the sport.

The drastic move was precipitated by the rapid collapse of the WAC, a long-standing FBS conference which has seen most of its flagship schools grabbed up by bigger conferences over the last 12 months.

The only schools currently scheduled to be in the WAC in the 2013-2014 season are Idaho, New Mexico State, Cal State-Bakersfield, Seattle University, Utah Valley University and Grand Canyon University, a D2 school in Arizona currently making the transition to D1.

In the rapidly changing world of college athletics, it's every athletic department for themselves, so when Denver was given a life-raft in the form of the Summit League, they had no choice but to take it.