Southland approves variety of changes, championship sites at spring meetings

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Southland Conference

FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference Board of Directors brought the league’s annual spring meeting to a close Thursday, reviewing and acting on numerous administrative, competitive and academic issues. Meeting virtually, the Southland presidents wrapped up a series of meetings that also featured the league’s Advisory Council, consisting of athletic directors, faculty athletic representatives, senior woman administrators, and student-athlete advisory committee members.

The Board discussed the league’s progress on membership possibilities and the league will continue to review options for the league’s future configuration.

The presidents also approved moving all athletic departments toward campus-originated ESPN television productions in the coming year. The Southland and ESPN Networks entered into a new multi-year agreement in 2020, extending a longstanding broadcasting relationship. Other items of review included NCAA transfer and name, image and likeness issues, and the presidents and athletic directors also received an informative presentation from Dr. Derrick Gragg, NCAA Senior Vice President for Inclusion, Education, and Community Engagement. The Board also endorsed the planning for the Southland’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium scheduled for the upcoming fall semester.

“Following a challenging year related to the pandemic, but also a very successful run of competitive and academic outcomes, the Southland’s administrative groups had a very productive week of meetings,” Commissioner Tom Burnett said. “The membership is focused on future success and growth post-pandemic, and their work this week exemplified exactly that, ensuring our athletic programs continue to excel and serve the needs of their student-athletes.”

Also approved was a unique pre-conference men’s and women’s basketball event, Jan. 3-8, 2022, at the site of its annual postseason tournament in Katy, Texas. The Southland Basketball Tip-off will feature each men’s and women’s teams playing three other randomly-selected opponents on consecutive days at the Leonard E. Merrell Center, home to the Conference’s Tournament since 2008. While the games will not count in the league standings ahead of a 14-game home and away schedule, the event will feature a tournament format played out to places.

The membership also selected many 2021-22 Championship locations, including women’s soccer at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, volleyball at Southeastern Louisiana, and men’s and women’s tennis at New Orleans. Previously, the Conference had approved next year’s championships such as men’s and women’s cross country at Nicholls State, the men’s and women’s indoor track and field meet at the Crossplex in Birmingham, Ala., the men’s and women’s basketball tournament at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, beach volleyball at Houston Baptist, men’s golf at the Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas, softball at Southeastern Louisiana, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field at McNeese State. The Southland will make a future determination on the site of its women’s golf championship.

Also in 2022, the Conference will conduct an innovative baseball tournament format with the top two seeds hosting three other teams in first-round double-elimination events. The first-round winners will advance to a best 2-of-3 series to determine the league’s NCAA automatic qualifier at the site of the highest-remaining seed the following weekend. The Southland Bowling League will conduct its 2021-22 championship at the Colonial Bowling Lanes in New Orleans.

A few 2022-23 championship sites were also approved, including women’s soccer at Northwestern State, volleyball at Houston Baptist, beach volleyball at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, softball at McNeese State, and men’s and women’s tennis at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The men’s and women’s cross country meet at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was previously approved, and decisions will be determined at a later date for men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s golf, men’s golf, outdoor track and field, and baseball.

The Conference’s Board of Directors will undergo a leadership change in 2021-22, as McNeese State President Daryl Burckel will begin a two-year term as Chair of the presidential group. Nicholls State President Jay Clune will serve as Chair-Elect, and Southeastern Louisiana President John Crain will continue as Past-President. The Board also selected New Orleans President John Nicklow as the league’s representative to the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum.

The Advisory Council’s executive committee will also change with Northwestern State faculty representative Jody Biscoe selected as president, New Orleans Athletic Director Tim Duncan named as vice president, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi deputy athletic director Lizzie Gomez picked as secretary-treasurer.

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