McNeese staying put in Southland Conference

Pokes get rivalry win over Demons, 35-17
Pokes get rivalry win over Demons, 35-17(KPLC)
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 4:10 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - McNeese State University will be staying in the Southland, the conference it has called home since 1972.

McNeese had considered making a move to the Western Athletic Conference, which would have put it in position for a move to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

McNeese and the Southland jointly announced Tuesday afternoon that it has decided to stay in the Southland Conference, which is in the Football Championship Series (FCS).

In the same announcement, the Southland said that McNeese and Lake Charles will host several Southland Conference championship events from 2023 through 2026, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the baseball tournament and the softball tournament. The Southland Conference Football Media Day will also return to Lake Charles for the next five years.

“We remain committed to finding a path to FBS Football, and after evaluating several options, and a lengthy discussion with the newly-invigorated Southland Conference leadership team, we are excited about the commitment the SLC has made to the SWLA Community,” McNeese State President Daryl Burckel said in a statement. “This agreement better positions us to pursue our goal of becoming an FBS football institution, while providing much needed economic stimulus for our community.”

The basketball tournaments will be played at McNeese’s Legacy Center, the baseball tournament will be played at Joe Miller Ballpark, and the softball tournaments be played at Joe Miller Field at Cowgirl Diamond.

“By remaining in the Southland Conference, this agreement solidifies our automatic qualifier in all sports,” McNeese State Athletic Director Heath Schroyer said in a statement. “By hosting these championships on our campus we are providing our teams with an excellent opportunity to advance to the NCAA tournaments.”

The Southland also released statements from conference officials:

Nicholls State University President and Southland Board Chair Dr. Jay Clune: “The Southland’s Board of Directors were unanimous in their support of sustaining McNeese State as a valued and trusted member of the league. Through a process of trust and transparency, university presidents have come together to ensure the league can continue moving forward with additional growth and strength.”

Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett: “We are absolutely thrilled to confirm the continuation of McNeese’s longstanding membership in the Southland Conference. For a half century, Cowboy and Cowgirl athletics have experienced constant success in the Southland Conference, and we look forward to having McNeese student-athletes continuing to compete for league championships and national acclaim in the years to come. We celebrate and cherish our mutually-beneficial history with this great university, and we thank President Daryl Burckel, Athletic Director Heath Schroyer and the entire McNeese athletic family for their continued faith and interest in the Southland Conference and their fellow member institutions.”

Southland Deputy Commissioner Chris Grant: “McNeese’s decision to stay in the Southland Conference is monumental and represents a consensus position which resulted from a collaborative effort with our Board of Directors. We value the strong working relationships that have been reaffirmed during this process among the conference members.  Today’s actions represent the first in a series of steps to expand the conference and ensure we continue to provide an elite student-athlete experience for our membership.”

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