A long-rumored ambition came to fruition Friday afternoon when Dixie State University announced it will transition its athletic programs to the Division I level at a press conference on campus.

The St. George school, once a junior college that became a university in 2013, simultaneously announced accepted membership to the Western Athletic Conference for all sports except football. Dixie will join in-state school Utah Valley in the WAC.

The Trailblazers are set to become a Division I program in 2020, which begins a four-year reclassification process. If all marks are met, DSU teams become eligible for NCAA postseason events in the 2024-25 season.

“Moving to Division I is the next pivotal step in Dixie State University transitioning from securing university status in 2013 to obtaining university stature,” school president Richard B. Williams said.

“Joining the Western Athletic Conference will not only elevate our athletic teams and allow them to play other high-caliber competitors, but it will elevate our entire university and expand the stage on which we can share the message about (our) high-quality academic programs.”

Dixie State’s football program is the only of 15 teams that will not join the WAC, a conference that no longer sponsors football. That team will become an independent at the FCS level.

Southern Utah announced Friday a three-game football series against Dixie, with games in Cedar City in 2020 and 2022, and a game in St. George in 2024. The 2020 game is scheduled for Sept. 5 and will be DSU’s first Division I FCS game.

Dixie’s athletic director, Jason Boothe, also teased football games with Weber State during the press conference. Details for Weber-Dixie football games are expected to be announced next week.

Dixie State has competed at the Division II level since the 2006-07 season, which will conclude after the 2019-20 season.

Boothe also announced a $1 million donation from Denis and Diane Lyman to renovate the school’s softball complex.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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