BEAUMONT, Texas – Southland Conference Commissioner Chris Grant and Lamar University President Jaime Taylor today announced an agreement to bring the founding member school back to Southland to compete in all sports from the 2023-2024 academic year.
“Cardinals were with us when our conference was born nearly sixty years ago, and we are delighted to welcome them back,” said Grant, whose term as commissioner began just three days ago. . “The Southland Conference is committed to redefining the future of FCS and the student-athlete experience.”
Based in Beaumont, Lamar University originally joined the league in 1963-64 and, after a brief hiatus, joined Southland in 1998-99. During that time, Cardinal fans have witnessed 109 regular season championships in LU’s 17 varsity sports. He left Southland for the Western Athletic Conference in January 2021.
“We are grateful to have spent time in the WAC, but are excited about our return to the Southland Conference, fueled by the combination of dynamic leadership, member stability, regional rivalries and vision for the future. of the league,” Taylor said.
The college move is seen as part of a larger trend in the changing landscape of college athletics, as schools and conferences grapple with the implications of factors including NIL agreements, the Portal transfer and the reinvention of the NCAA. Building strong partnerships with like-minded peer institutions is fundamental to ensuring student-athletes have future opportunities to compete and prepare for success in life.
Taylor says, “Sport has the unique power to unite and energize a campus and a community. Since taking office in June, I have heard from the extended LU family who have asked us to reconsider our conference membership. Commissioner Grant’s invitation to return to Southland has come at a transformative time at Lamar University, and we are certainly happy to come home.”
“In college sport, the only constant is change, so our Board of Directors remains committed to one another and builds on our strong foundation that enables our universities to take advantage of the best opportunities together,” concluded Grant. “There are big things happening at the Southland conference, so all I can say is ‘stay tuned’.
About Lamar University
Home to more than 17,000 students, Lamar University is one of the fastest growing colleges and universities in Texas. LU is a member of the Texas State University System, which is the premier higher education system in Texas and maintains the lowest average tuition and fees of any university system in Texas. With over 100 degree options and a caring community, Lamar students are always proud to be Cardinals.
About the Southland Conference
Founded in Dallas in 1963 and now in its 59th competitive season, the Southland Conference celebrates the academic and competitive achievements of its member institutions and their student-athletes. The league, based in Frisco, Texas, has eight members in Louisiana and Texas and sponsors 18 NCAA Division I sports, with automatic NCAA championship berths in 12 applicable team sports. The league has won numerous national championships, including the 2020 NCAA Division I FCS title, and regularly wins in other sports in the NCAA playoffs, including the 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Conference are doing exceptionally well in the classroom, as graduation rates and NCAA academic performance metrics are at all-time highs. Additionally, all of Southland’s current athletic programs are eligible for the NCAA’s new academic performance fund. The league also has a recently expanded agreement with ESPN Networks, broadcasting hundreds of competitions each year, and is represented in the domestic corporate sales market by Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment.