FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference concluded its 2019 Spring Meeting on Wednesday with a number of competitive, administrative and strategic initiatives addressed at the four-day event here at the Westin Stonebriar Hotel. The annual meeting brought together institutional presidents, athletic directors, faculty representatives, senior woman administrators, student-athletes, league staff members and other special guests.
Among the items of interest approved is the addition of an eighth on-field football official, known as the center judge, beginning with the 2021 season. The center judge, who is positioned behind the offensive line of scrimmage, is common within the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, including in the Big 12 and Mountain West, leagues the Southland partners within its longstanding officiating consortium.
The Southland also approved a new intra-conference transfer policy that establishes that undergraduate transferring student-athletes in all sports shall be ineligible for competition at the institution to which they transfer during the first year in residence. There shall be no additional restrictions in this revised policy that becomes effective August 1, 2019.
“The Spring Meeting was again a very productive gathering for our campus administrators and league staff,” said Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett. “The administrators remain focused on student-athlete success, and the competitive and academic achievements we continue to experience each year. We greatly appreciate the strategic approach our administrators have taken to ensure this success remains in place.”
League leaders also welcomed presentations from NCAA executives Dr. Katrice Albert, executive vice president for inclusion and human resources, and Leeland Zeller, director of Division I governance. Administrators also reviewed the current status of and outlook for the Southland’s television and corporate sponsorship agreements.
Southland administrators selected locations for five 2020-21 championship events, including women’s soccer at Abilene Christian, volleyball at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, beach volleyball at Houston Baptist, men’s and women’s tennis at Lamar, and softball at Southeastern Louisiana. Also, beginning in 2020, the league’s volleyball tournament will expand from three to four days with a protected bye format similarly used in the league’s Basketball Tournament.
At Tuesday night’s Honors Ceremony, the Southland awarded its two F.L. McDonald Postgraduate Scholarships to Houston Baptist women’s basketball student-athlete Amanda Johnson, a 4.0 GPA graduate pursuing an advanced degree at Johns Hopkins University, and McNeese State baseball student-athlete Bryan King, also a 4.0 graduate heading to the University of Denver for postgraduate studies.
The league’s Steve McCarty Citizenship Awards were presented to a pair of Central Arkansas student-athletes, softball’s Oakley Sisemore and football’s Breylin Smith. Southeastern Louisiana was presented the Southland Strong Community Service Award by logging more than 7,000 hours of service by SLU student-athletes in the past year. Houston Baptist was presented with its fourth consecutive Academic Performance Award.
Sam Houston State won its record seventh Commissioner’s Cup in 2018-19, indicative of overall athletic accomplishment. SHSU also took the Men’s All-Sports Trophy after winning five championships out of seven sports sponsored in the Southland. Stephen F. Austin won the Women’s All-Sports Trophy on the strength three league championships and three additional top-three finishes.
The administrators also reviewed plans for the Conference’s newest sponsored sport, beach volleyball, that officially begins in 2019-20, with an inaugural championship event in Corpus Christi. Also previewed were upcoming Conference events, including a new Academic Symposium in June and a new External Summit in July.
Dr. Dana Hoyt presided over her final meeting as Chair of the Southland Conference Board of Directors, and will be succeeded by Dr. Houston Davis, president at Central Arkansas, for a two-year term. Dr. Chris Maggio, president of Northwestern State will begin a two-year term as the Board’s new Chair-elect.