Just two years after losing all its football-playing Oklahoma schools, the Lone Star Conference is again facing attrition.
Abilene Christian University and University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio have both announced their intentions of leaving the LSC, an NCAA Division II conference, to move to NCAA Division I and join the Texas-Louisiana based Southland Conference following the 2012-13 school year.
The move leaves Tarleton State in the LSC along with Abilene Christian, Angelo State, Midwestern State, Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas A&M-Kingsville, West Texas A&M, Eastern New Mexico, Texas Woman's and Cameron (Okla.). Texas Woman's and Cameron do not participate in football.
"This week signals the end of a lengthy chapter of speculation about (ACU and UIW) reclassifying to Division I," said LSC Commissioner Stan Wagnon in a prepared statement released last week by the conference. "The future starts now for the Lone Star Conference. We're a Division II conference, and a proud one at that. As a group, we believe in the balance between academics and athletics that is afforded student-athletes in Division II, along with the high-level competition we provide. We're committed to offering our constituents the very best aspects of Divsion II membership.
"The LSC members that wish to build this league into the NCAA's premier Division II conference must remain unified and press forward," continued Wagnon, a former Tarleton sports information director. "I am confident we have a core group of instutions that want to continue on the path we're pursuing, and I look forward to working with them as we add new members and keep building upon the 81-year legacy of this conference."
In reference to Wagnon's final comments, the LSC has released no information regarding which institutions it has communicated with concerning the possibility of joining the conference.
Both ACU and UIW are expected to compete in all LSC competitions with other league members until their departure dates, Wagnon said.
The last splitting of the LSC came in 2010 when three Oklahoma universities - Southeastern Oklahoma State, Southwestern Oklahoma State and East Central - joined a group of Louisiana schools to form the Great American Conference, while two others - Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State - left to join the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
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