The FCS grew by two conferences earlier this year, adding the ASUN Conference and the WAC. With neither conference currently having enough eligible teams to earn an auto-bid into the playoffs, they have announced a partnership for the fall 2021 season.
Called the AQ7, three teams joining the ASUN Conference (Jacksonville State, Eastern Kentucky, and Central Arkansas) along with four teams joining the WAC (Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Abilene Christian, and Lamar) will play a single round-robin schedule with each team having three home and three road contests. The team with the highest winning percentage will earn an AQ in the fall 2021 FCS playoffs. The conference standings will be presented as the ASUN-WAC Challenge.
See below for the complete ASUN-WAC Challenge schedule.
Kennesaw State and North Alabama will remain in the Big South for the fall 2021 season.
WAC members Dixie State and Tarleton will participate in the joint schedule but will not be eligible for the group’s AQ as they will be in their second year of NCAA reclassification to Division I.
“I am very pleased the WAC and ASUN were able to work through various issues and compromise on the elements of a mutually-beneficial scheduling alliance for the upcoming football season,” WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. “The fact that it came together in a relatively short period of time is a credit to the administrators and coaches of all the involved institutions.”
“The ASUN and WAC are proud to be building opportunities for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level,” ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart said. “This partnership provides teams in both leagues a path to an automatic bid and elevates the ASUN and WAC to a new level of competition. We look forward to creating more innovative ways to promote ASUN Football as an NCAA FCS league in 2021 and beyond.”
Items from the desk of ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart
- AQ Eligibility for North Alabama – Reclassifying schools are not eligible to earn an AQ until they have completed four years as a reclassifying school. The ASUN SAAC has sponsored a proposal along with four other conference SAACs to change that rule. Under the proposed change, teams could earn an AQ after successfully completing two years of reclassification. If this passes, North Alabama could earn an AQ in fall 2021 (playing in the Big South
- United Atlanta Classic – We are filing paperwork to create a separate entity as a 501(c)(3). The United Atlanta Classic will serve as the ASUN’s local Atlanta team to work with the office of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and with Dan Corso and the Atlanta Sports Council to organize and present a multiple-game series in Atlanta on a specific weekend. We intend to start in fall 2021 if possible, but no later than fall 2022.
- Challenge Series – The ASUN is in initial talks with the Big South, our football partner, about building an ASUN-Big South Challenge to begin in fall 2022. The conferences would line up and play each other on the final day of the FCS regular season. Match-ups would be determined mid-season.
- 2021 Media Arrangements – The ASUN’s exclusive partner in linear and digital platform broadcasting is ESPN. ASUN Football will open negotiations with ESPN for the rights to broadcast our home games in the ASUN-WAC Challenge, and on an overall renewal of the ASUN Agreement.
- Expectations for ASUN Football growth – the ASUN is very confident that we will have options for further expansion, both in football and non-football institutions. We have been bold, innovative and willing to build new options and we will continue to conduct our membership expansion activities over the next five months.
- “Today is the official birth of ASUN Football. These five schools are the charter members. It is a new day, and ASUN Football aspires to be, plans to be, and expects to be the top FCS football conference in the country.”
ASUN-WAC Challenge Schedule Dates
Sept. 25, 2021
Sam Houston at Central Arkansas
Abilene Christian at Lamar
Oct. 2, 2021
Central Arkansas at Abilene Christian
Tarleton at Eastern Kentucky – #
Sam Houston at Stephen F. Austin
Oct. 9, 2021
Abilene Christian at Eastern Kentucky
Stephen F. Austin at Jacksonville State
Lamar at Sam Houston
Oct. 16, 2021
Lamar at Abilene Christian
Eastern Kentucky at Central Arkansas
Tarleton at Dixie State – #
Oct. 23, 2021
Central Arkansas at Lamar
Stephen F. Austin at Dixie State – #
Jacksonville State at Sam Houston
Oct. 30, 2021
Abilene Christian at Stephen F. Austin
Central Arkansas at Jacksonville State
Lamar at Eastern Kentucky
Sam Houston at Tarleton – #
Nov. 6, 2021
Abilene Christian at Jacksonville State
Dixie State at Sam Houston
Eastern Kentucky at Stephen F. Austin
Lamar at Tarleton – #
Nov. 13, 2021
Tarleton at Abilene Christian – #
Stephen F. Austin at Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky at Sam Houston
Jacksonville State at Lamar
Nov. 20, 2021
Sam Houston at Abilene Christian
Central Arkansas at Tarleton – #
Jacksonville State at Eastern Kentucky
Stephen F. Austin at Lamar
# – Contests against Dixie State and Tarleton do not count towards alliance win percentage