Southland Conference advances membership process

The Southland Conference will be sending visitation teams to three universities to examine future membership possibilities.

The visits to Abilene Christian University, the University of the Incarnate Word and the University of New Orleans this summer were approved by the conference's board of directors at their four-day spring meeting this week in Galveston and announced Thursday.

The Southland Conference is a member of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision. Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word are currently Division II football-playing institutions, while UNO is a Division I independent program. Abilene Christian was a charter member of the Southland when it formed in 1963.

"The board of directors has spent a considerable amount of time since last summer reviewing all possible membership options available to the conference," Southland commissioner Tom Burnett said. "It's been a deliberate, thoughtful exercise that has allowed the board to consider what's best for the long-term viability of the association, not just a quick fix. The presidents were very clear in expressing their interest in learning more about these institutions, and they look forward to these visits."

The Southland Conference has 12 member schools. It is adding Oral Roberts for the 2012-13 academic year and Houston Baptist for 2013-14 to offset the upcoming losses of Texas State, UT Arlington and UTSA to other conferences.