Winds of Change
by Cheval John
With the 2012 Southland Conference (SLC) Baseball Tournament winding down this weekend in San Marcos, one could wonder what the future holds for the conference.
Almost two years ago, Texas State University-San Marcos (TXST), University of Texas-Arlington (UTA) and University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) informed SLC Commissioner Tom Burnett that they were departing the conference effective July 1.
Though their destination was the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in the beginning, each university had second thoughts because they did not know if the conference was going to be there in the future.
Suddenly, UTSA changed their minds and said that they will join Conference USA on July 1.
UTA followed their lead and will leave for the Sun Belt Conference on July 1.
TXST on the other hand will keep their commitment to the WAC on July 1.
The twist to all of this is that they will be a member for only a year before joining the Sun Belt in 2014.
The irony in all of this is that they left a solid conference, like the SLC for a conference that probably will not be there in the future and that put them in a situation in which they had to scramble to be in a conference before July 1.
Commissioner Burnett was not rattled by their decision as he immediately sought for replacements.
After the delegation visited Oral Roberts (ORU) and Houston Baptist University early last year, the commissioner made a formal invitation to both the universities to join the conference and both gladly accepted.
ORU will join effective July 1 of this year to compete in all sports except football because they don’t have a football team while Houston Baptist joining the following year.
In the process, they have fielded a football team that will begin athletic competition in 2014.
The acquisitions of both those schools increases the possibility of future expansion for the Southland Conference.
In addition, both schools will not have to travel as far as New York for in- conference competition because members of the SLC are within an driving distance between 3-8 hours of each other.
That alone will save the athletics department money while the other three schools that left will now have to expand their budget to accomodate to their travels because of distance of each school in both the Sun Belt and Conference USA.
In the end, the SLC got the last laugh.