In November of 2021, UIW accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) effective July 1, 2022.
On June 24, 2022, UIW informed the WAC that it will not proceed with becoming a member and will remain in the Southland Conference.
This follows an April 2022 announcement that Lamar is returning to the Southland in 2023 after joining the WAC in the summer of 2021.
“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,” UIW President Dr. Thomas M. Evans said. “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.”
“Ever since I arrived at this university, we have continuously looked to position UIW Athletics for success at the Division I level,” UIW Athletic Director Richard Duran said. “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.”
UIW is expected to play a full Southland schedule this upcoming fall. It did have seven WAC conference games on its schedule. The Southland had plans in place if UIW decided to stay and will adjust its league schedule accordingly.
Due to low membership numbers, the WAC and the ASUN announced in May that they are extending their alliance for the 2022 season and the foreseeable future as one joint league with one auto-bid into the FCS playoffs.
Without Lamar and UIW in 2023, the WAC would be down to five schools if it doesn’t add members: Abilene Christian, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Tarleton State, and Utah Tech (Dixie State).
Southland membership will grow to eight teams in 2023: Houston Baptist, Lamar, McNeese, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana University, Texas A&M-Commerce, and UIW.
“We are thrilled that the University of Incarnate Word is staying in the Southland Conference,” Southland Conference Commissioner Chris Grant said. “With their commitment to building champions in the classroom, competition, and the community, they represent the high standards that our member institutions strive to uphold. The alignment of leadership between UIW’s president, Dr. Thomas Evans, and athletic director, Richard Duran, exemplifies the relationship between the academy and athletics that are vital for overall success in modern collegiate athletics. Winning the Southland’s Commissioner’s Cup for the first time this year is a clear indicator they’re doing something right in San Antonio. Our belief that big things are happening in the Southland is only affirmed by their decision to be part of our exciting future.”