WHITEFISH — The Frontier Conference's football conglomerate will grow by one beginning next fall with the addition of Arizona Christian University.
The conference announced Thursday that ACU, located in Glendale, Arizona, will be added as a associate member for football in 2023. For the past seven years, the Firestorm football program has been an associate member of the NAIA Sooner Athletic Conference.
"The move to the Frontier Conference connects ACU to other NAIA institutions in the west, an important move as we see college football growing among NAIA universities in the Rocky Mountain region and in the western United States," ACU athletic director Peter Dryer said in a press release.
"The student-athlete experience is an important part of what we do at ACU, and the Frontier Conference will provide an increased quality of competition and an unparalleled game-day experience."
ACU competes in the Golden State Athletic Conference in its other sports (except for wrestling, which is an associate member of the Cascade Conference).
Arizona Christian launched its football program in 2014. The Firestorm went 9-2 during the 2021 season and qualified for the NAIA playoffs for the first time. The Firestorm have had seven consecutive winning seasons and won three SAC titles.
“I want to thank the Arizona Christian school administration along with the administrators of the Frontier Conference institutions for their hard work that went into shaping this joint endeavor," Frontier commissioner Kent Paulson said in a press release.
“I want to thank the members of the Frontier Conference Membership Committee who continually work tirelessly in advancing our league, always pursuing quality institutions that match our league’s philosophy and standards of excellence.”
Dr. John Cech, Carroll College president and chair of the league's Council of Presidents, said the addition of ACU will strengthen Frontier Conference football.
"I am delighted and honored to welcome Arizona Christian University to the conference,” Cech said in the press release. “This is literally a game changer for our conference and we look forward to competing with the Firestorm in Arizona as well as our other partner institutions in Oregon, Idaho and across Montana."