The Lamar Cardinals will rejoin the Southland Conference beginning on July 1, 2023, it was announced Friday.
The school returns to its long-time home after a brief dalliance with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The American Press reported the framework of the story Thursday afternoon, with CBS affiliate KFDM in Beaumont and its sports director, Mike Friedman, confirming the story late Thursday.
“The Cardinals were with us when our conference was born nearly sixty years ago, and we are delighted to welcome them back,” said Southland Conference Commissioner Chris Grant. “The Southland Conference is committed to redefining the future of FCS and the student-athlete experience.”
“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 Lamar University President Jaime Taylor.
“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,” Taylor added. “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.”
The WAC released a statement shortly after Lamar’s announcement.
“The Western Athletic Conference has a long history of success and we will continue to assess the ever changing landscape and make decisions that give our membership the best opportunity to compete for championships and provide a high level student athlete experience,” said WAC Commissioner Brian Thornton. “Our institutions are unified in their commitment to the WAC remaining one of the premier mid-major conferences in the country.”
The Cardinals turned in a 2-9 campaign in their initial WAC season, falling in all seven league contests. Lamar’s lone Division 1 win came in a 17-10, overtime result at Northern Colorado. WAC opponents turned in an average margin of victory of 32.6 points per game against the Cardinals in 2021.