UIW to remain in Southland Conference, will not join WAC in 2022

By Kevin Kelley -

The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) has announced that they will remain in the Southland Conference and will not join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

UIW accepted an invitation to join the WAC in November of 2021 and the move was set to become official next week on Friday, July 1, 2022.

“In the ever-changing landscape of Division I athletics, change can happen fast, but it has always been our goal to find stability, the best fit and the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” says UIW President Dr. Thomas M. Evans. “Today’s announcement is just another example of putting those interests first. Our decision to remain in the Southland Conference will optimize class time with competition time and time in our community and allow our students to once again excel in all those areas.”

UIW has been a member of the Southland Conference since 2014 when they moved up to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) from Division II. The Cardinals began their football program in 2009 and were members of the Lone Star Conference from 2010 through 2012.

“Ever since I arrived at this university, we have continuously looked to position UIW Athletics for success at the Division I level,” says UIW Athletic Director Richard Duran. “Given the rapid change happening within Division I conferences across the nation, we believe we are best positioned for continued success in the Southland Conference. This will allow our student-athletes to continue to show their talents in the classroom, in the community and in competition.”

Per a report from the American Press, UIW is expected to play a full Southland schedule for the 2022 season. Since the schedules for the Southland and WAC have already been set, both will have to be revised.

Revising the Southland schedule should not be as rigorous, as each team is scheduled to play an in-season home-and-home with another team from the conference. UIW should be able to slide into those spots, although there may be some date conflicts with non-conference games that could shuffle some matchups around.

“We are working on finalizing those right now,” Southland Commissioner Chris Grant told the American Press. “We want to make the least amount of changes necessary for our teams, players and fans.”

Regarding in-season home-and-home series within the Southland Conference, those will be eliminated also.

“We don’t want to do that any more,” said Grant. “This should give us good balance to our scheduling.”

UIW is coming off of a Southland championship season that saw the Cardinals finish 7-1 in conference play and 10-1 overall.

Lamar, who departed the Southland in 2020, has also announced they will rejoin the conference, but that will not happen until the 2023 season. With UIW and Lamar back, the Southland will have eight members next season, including current schools Houston Baptist, McNeese, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, and Texas A&M-Commerce.

Future UIW Football Schedules

Comments (7)

I can see their point, not because I like their point. With Stagflation & Recession & Supply & Transportation Interuptions & WAC States Members residing far from TX & LA, I could see that culturally & economically UIW Cardinals staying in S & E Texas & LA will give them the Opportunity to be the big FB Dog in the Southland Conference.
UIW were Southland Champs in 2021. They hosted & beat instate Rival SFASTU Jacks in the 1st Round & fell to AQ 7 Champ SHSTU Bearkats in Huntsville in the 2nd Round. I listened to that Game between the bearkats & lumberjacks.
I’m sad for the WAC. I can see their POV. They did their due diligence, their homework. Yet their FB Conference gets hit with the precarious situation of more years than 2022 & 2023 having to Ally themselves with the ASUN while They both look for a sustainable Model.
The empirical Fact of Geographic separation is, has been & will continue to be a Barrier in the quickly fluctuating US business – social Recession affecting TX & UT FB Schools. There are a lot of Air Miles between UT & TX.
The WAC will be left with 3 established Playoff eligible Schools in ACU Wildcats & SFASTU Jacks & SUU T-birds. The other 2 Unis have a Year or more of transition ahead of them. TarletonSTU Texans & UtahTechU Trailbalzers.
Who knows whether UTRGV Vaqueros will be able to start a brand new 1-AA Program on transition probation? They’re in the middle of the Illegal Invasion Crisis on the Southern Border. Starting a scratch FB Program in this chaotic Atmosphere?
Somehow the Southland Conference has now restored it’s Status in a connected, tight Footprint, with known Foes & plenty of Regional Teams to play in September nonconference matches.
I was rooting for the WAC. Now they’ll continue to be a 1-AAA Basketball Conference searching for sustainability for 1-AA FB, sigh. I’m anxious to hear later from the WAC what they’re going to do midterm, longterm…

I understand why but the timing is awful. The season starts in two months. Why not go for a year then move back in 2023, like Lamar.

Ja, IMO, the timing is bad for the WAC & us as casual Fans (I’m assuming your not an athletic Dept. Employee or coaching staff Member.) UIW Cardinals are positioning themselves now, making the hard decisions, taking the negative blowback, weathering their losses in PR / Social Image / Reputation as a School & sticking with stability, minimum change & physical / cultural Geography.

Lamar State University Cardinals have already been in the WAC for a Year & are Right to not leave unannounced & with their arrangements for 2022-23 already in place. I commend them for that.

Ja, the WAC has to delete UIW from all of the other FB Teams schedules. The Southland Conference will simply restore the Cardinals to a slot in the Conference FB Schedule.

The President @ UIW was right when he said “In the everchanging landscape of Division 1 athletics, change can happen fast, it has always been our goal to find stability, …” the other points are PR speak “…best fit and best opportunities…”.

I don’t like this decision, from a WAC Fan’s perspective.
Look @ all the instability in the USA in everything around CFB. CFB is a great escape, that’s why I follow it. Universities are not on a self sufficient Island, in another dimension cushioning them from Life around them.

What the SBC didn’t do in telling Marshall U thundering Herd, Old Dominion U Monarchs, Southern Miss. U golden Eagles to give C-USA a Year’s notice & join their Conference in 2023 was a destructive precedent for non Trust Five Conferences moving forward.

IMO, Division 1-AA is even less stable than these two Conferences in !-A are.
Your thoughts on my Analysis?…

The WAC should just dissolve. Schools can go to the Big Sky, Southland, or CUSA as appropriate to geography and school demographics.