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.