However, he maintains that this does not mean McNeese will not look elsewhere in the future. That includes a move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“I would never say never to anything,” said Athletic Director Heath Schroyer. “We have to position ourselves to make our own decisions in the future and do what is best for us. We want to decide our future, not have others or circumstances dictate what we do.”
As for the Southland, the conference had a lot to discuss at the meeting and keeping those still in the league calm was a big part of the talks.
“Following a challenging year related to the pandemic, but also a very successful run of competitive and academic outcomes, the Southland’s administrative groups had a very productive week of meetings,” Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett said in a news release. “The membership is focused on future success and growth post-pandemic, and their work this week exemplified exactly that, ensuring our athletic programs continue to excel and serve the needs of their student-athletes.”
The conference made two big moves. First, a preseason league basketball tournament for both men and women will be played in Katy, Texas, after the new year. The SLC and Katy have one year left on their contract to play the postseason championship tournament at the Merrell Center.
After that there is movement toward having the regular-season champion host the postseason tournaments, or at least play them on a campus.
The Southland Basketball Tip-off will feature men’s and women’s teams playing three other randomly selected opponents on consecutive days. The games will not count in the league standings ahead of a 14-game home-and-away schedule. The event will feature a tournament format played out to places.
“I really like it,” said first-year McNeese men’s basketball coach John Aiken. “It is a great way to give our conference some attention and start the league. Great for the conference to have our own thing.”
This also could lead to the conference moving its championship tournaments to campus sites in the future.
“I think it is important that we play championships on campus,” Schroyer said. “That will maximize interest and would be good for our fans and communities. It will be best for athletes as well.”
With that in mind, the league’s baseball coaches came up with a new format for their championship starting next year. The Southland will play a tournament format with the top two seeds hosting three other teams in firstround double-elimination events. The first-round winners will advance to a best-of-3 series to determine the league’s NCAA automatic qualifier at the site of the highest-remaining seed the following weekend.
The league moved the baseball tournament back on campus this year, as it is currently being played at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond.
“Playing on campus is absolute the right thing to do,” said McNeese head baseball coach Justin Hill. “We have proven that this weekend. The place is electric. It becomes like our own regional then super regional.
“I think it is important that we reward the teams that have stayed with the conference and having all six make the postseason for baseball is a great way to do it.”
The Southland is also considering bringing football media day back to Lake Charles. Sources have confirmed that the league is talking with the Golden Nugget Casino in hopes to host the event as early as this summer.
SLC Media Day used to take place in Lake Charles before the league moved it to Houston.
“That would make sense,” Schroyer said. “Lake Charles is the perfect place for the media day. We are right on the I-10 and in the center of the conference. It would be great for both the league and the city.”