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 the Southland to compete in all sports beginning with the 2023-2024 academic year.
“The Cardinals were with us when our conference was born nearly sixty years ago, and we are delighted to welcome them back,” said Grant, whose tenure 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, rejoined the Southland in 1998-99. During that time, Cardinal fans witnessed 109 regular-season championships across LU’s 17 varsity sports. It left the Southland for the Western Athletic Conference in January 2021.
“We are grateful for our time in the WAC, but we are thrilled for our return to the Southland Conference fueled by the league’s combination of dynamic leadership, membership stability, regional rivalries, and vision for the future,” said Taylor.
The university’s move is seen as part of a broader trend in the changing landscape of college athletics, as schools and conferences grapple with the implications of factors such as NIL agreements, the transfer portal, and the reimagining of the NCAA. Forging strong partnerships with like-minded peer institutions is fundamental to ensuring future opportunities for student-athletes to compete and prepare for success in life.
Taylor says, “Sports have the unique power to unite and energize a campus and community. Since taking office in June, I’ve heard from LU’s extended family, who asked us to reexamine our conference affiliation. Commissioner Grant’s invitation to return to the Southland has come at a time of transformation at Lamar University, and we’re certainly happy to be coming home.”
“In college athletics, the only constant is change, so our Board of Directors remain committed to each other, and building upon our strong foundation that enables our universities to capitalize on the best opportunities together,” concluded Grant. “There are big things happening in the Southland Conference, so all I can say is ‘stay tuned.”
About Lamar University
Home to more than 17,000 students, Lamar University is among the fastest-growing Texas colleges and universities. LU is a member of The Texas State University System, which is the first higher education system in Texas and maintains the lowest average tuition and fees of any university system in Texas. With more than 100 degree options and a community that cares, 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 its member institutions’ academic and competitive achievements and their student-athletes. The league, based in Frisco, Texas, includes eight members in Louisiana and Texas and sponsors 18 NCAA Division I sports, with NCAA Championships automatic berths in 12 applicable team sports. The league has won numerous national championships, including the 2020 NCAA Division I FCS title, and wins regularly in other sports in NCAA postseason play, including the 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The Conference’s student-athletes perform exceptionally well in the classroom, as graduation rates and NCAA Academic Performance metrics are at all-time highs. Further, all current Southland athletic programs qualify for the new NCAA Academic Performance Fund. The league also features a newly-expanded agreement with ESPN Networks, broadcasting hundreds of competitions each year, and is represented in the national corporate sales marketplace by Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment.
COURTESY SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE COMMUNICATIONS