Oral Roberts leaving Southland, will return to Summit League

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

Setting a new land-speed record for buyer’s remorse (collegiate division), Oral Roberts announced on Thursday that will be

leaving the Southland Conference effective July 1, 2014 and return to the Summit League.

The Golden Eagles are only in their second — and final — year of competition in the Southland.

ORU athletic director Mike Carter cited the league’s expansion to 14 teams with the inclusion of Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word and New Orleans this summer as the reason for jumping out of the pool it just jumped in to.

“When the Southland Conference expanded

to 14 teams, some of our primary objectives in joining the Southland,

such as improving

travel costs and developing rivalries with selected schools, are

no longer possible to achieve,” Carter said. “With these

changes in circumstances, we believe that returning to The Summit

League is in the best interest of our programs and student-athletes.”

Geographically speaking, that’s not necessarily the case.

The farthest Southland campus from Oral Roberts is New Orleans, which is 655 miles from Tulsa, Okla.

There are three Summit schools farther from ORU than UNO: Denver (692 miles), IPFW (763 miles) and North Dakota State (841

miles). No Summit school is as close to ORU as Southland member Central Arkansas.

However, there are fewer road trips in the nine-team Summit than the 14-team Southland.

The league the following statement: “We

appreciate the past and ongoing contributions of ORU athletics to the

Southland since

2012, and we are very pleased to have provided the entire athletic

program and its student-athletes with the opportunity to

be competitively successful. The Southland Conference wishes

everyone in the ORU community the best of luck in the future.”

McNeese athletic director Bruce Hemphill said the announcement caught him by surprise.

“We were not aware of this taking place. It’s disappointing,” Hemphill said. “They added to the conference. But we wish them

the best in their return (to the Summit).”

The league will enter next season with an unwieldy 13 teams. Hemphill doesn’t know of any plans to rebalance the conference

just yet.

“The good part is the timing. We have an upcoming conference meeting in Frisco later in December,” Hemphill said. “I am sure

a topic of discussion will be on how we move forward. We have a successful track record as a conference and will continue

to be successful moving foward.”