ACU will rejoin the Southland Conference almost 40 years after leaving the Division I conference. The Board of Trustees approved the decision to accept the conference’s invitation Friday evening.
The move will take place before the 2013-14 school year. ACU will remain in the Division II Lone Star Conference this school year.
After two years of discussions between the university and conference, Southland offered ACU an invitation to join the conference on Aug. 20. Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, sent an email to all faculty and staff to tell them the Board of Trustees would meet at the end of the week and would vote to accept or decline the invitation. The official announcement was announced in a press conference in Hunter Welcome Center Saturday afternoon.
“We were here a month ago and had a great visit on campus,” said Tom Burnett, commissioner of the Southland Conference. “We walked away very impressed.
Schubert said the move would make ACU sports more popular.
“Division I athletics provides a broader visibility of ACU,” Schubert said. “We’re excited about the opponents we’ll find ourselves matching up with.”
The move to Division I will affect more than sports. University academic standards will also change by next school year.
“We’ve explored division standards to see what the best fit for ACU,” said Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost. “The students that typically come to ACU meet the Division I academic requirements much more evidently. We found Division I would be a much better fit.”
Southland had 11 schools in the conference and was look to expand membership to reach 14. The conference also invited University of the Incarnate Word and the University of New Orleans. ACU was the last of the three to officially accept the invitation.
ACU was a founding member of the Southland Conference in 1963. ACU left the conference for the Lone Star Conference 10 years later because it would be less expensive.
All ACU athletics teams will be banned from post-season play for the university’s first five years in Southland.