Bryant joins Southland Conference as affiliate member for Men’s & Women’s Golf and Tennis

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Bulldogs will participate in all four championships in 2023

FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference has added Bryant University as an affiliate member for men’s and women’s golf and tennis, for multiple years beginning with the 2022-23 season, the league announced Monday.

“The Southland membership is on a mission to elevate our brand nationally by aligning with institutions and leaders who prioritize excellence in academics and athletics,” Southland Commissioner Chris Grant said. “A dynamic Division I institution and an extraordinary leader, like Bryant University and Bill Smith, committed to joining our membership as affiliated members in four sports, complements our Conference’s strength and unwavering support to ensure NCAA Championships access for all student-athletes. We welcome the Bryant University men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis student-athletes, coaches, and staff to the Southland Conference.”

The men’s and women’s tennis teams, and the men’s golf team, move to the Southland after great success in the Northeast Conference. The Bryant women’s golf team will play its first season in 2022-23.

“Bryant University is honored to be affiliate members of the Southland Conference and thrilled that four of our teams will have the opportunity to compete for a championship as members of this prestigious conference,” said Bryant Director of Athletics Bill Smith. “I would like to thank Commissioner Grant for providing a new home for our Bulldog men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis teams.”

Bryant men’s tennis has enjoyed incredible success at the Division I level, having won 170 games since 2008 under 17th-year head coach Ron Gendron. In that span, the Bulldogs went 47-4 against Northeast Conference opponents and won six-straight NEC Championships (2014-2019), qualifying for six NCAA Tournaments.

It was great experience to have had the success we had in the NEC,” Bryant men’s tennis coach Ron Gendron added. “That being said, we are looking forward to a new challenge with a new place to call home in the Southland.”

Bryant women’s tennis is coming off a historic championship run of its own this past season, winning its second NEC Championship before facing No. 2 national seed Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs also won the NEC in 2015 and advanced to the championship match in five of their final seven years in the NEC.

Bryant women’s tennis coach Barbara Cilli stated, “We are excited about what a transition like this means for Bryant as a whole, and for its tennis programs. Being in the Southland Conference will provide us added exposure and a new level of tennis. We are up for the challenge. Go Bulldogs!”

Men’s golf is one of the most tradition-rich programs at Bryant, having won 22 conference championships and qualifying for 33 NCAA Tournaments at the DII and DI level. The Bulldogs won NEC Championships in 2014 and 2017, and have finished in the top two at the league championships in five of the last eight years.

“We are very excited to be joining the Southland Conference,” Bryant men’s golf coach Charlie Blanchard said, “This high-quality competition will ignite the best in our student-athletes. We look forward to this new challenge. It’s a great day to be a Bulldog!”

Women’s Golf coach Nick Drago added, “Joining the Southland Conference is a tremendous opportunity for our budding women’s golf program. The Southland Conference is rich in golf history and will be a great home for our women to compete and hone their skills in a competitive environment. This opportunity will allow us to grow on a national scale. I am excited for the challenge ahead.”

The 2022-23 Southland Conference men’s tennis lineup will include Bryant, New Orleans, NJIT, Nicholls, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, while the Bryant women will compete against McNeese, New Orleans, NJIT, New Orleans, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Southeastern and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The 2023 Southland Tennis Tournaments will be held April 21-23 at Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the winner will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The 2023 Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships will be held, April 17-19 and April 24-26, respectively, at sites to be announced later this month.

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