Tarleton State set to move to Division-I athletics in 2020

By Kurt Mogonye/Tarleton State Athletics

Tarleton will join the Western Athletic Conference beginning in the 2020 season according to multiple sources. The news was first reported by Jeremy Bryant, voice of Angelo State athletics.

The Texans will play as an FCS independent in football and participate in the WAC for all other sports, including basketball, baseball and softball.

The WAC currently has 10 members, including UT Rio Grande Valley, and has already admitted Dixie State into the conference to begin play next season. The WAC will have 12 total members with the addition of Tarleton. Dixie State is also a football school, and will also function as an FCS independent in 2020. New Mexico State, another WAC member, plays football at the FBS independent level. 

Tarleton had its first season as a senior college in 1961 and transitioned to the Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II in 1994. With Tarleton State's departure, the Lone Star Conference is down to eight football playing members.

"On Monday, Tarleton State submitted their official notification of withdrawal from the Lone Star Conference, effective June 30, 2020," Lone Star Conference commissioner Jay Poerner said in a statement. "They've been a valued member of the LSC for many years and we wish them the best of luck with their transition." 

The Tarleton State football team won its first outright LSC title last year and set multiple program records as they advanced to the third round of the NCAA D-II playoffs in 2018. The Texans have four LSC titles and have made four appearances in the playoffs.

Tarleton State opened a renovated Lonn Reisman Athletic Center at Memorial Stadium this season and had a record crowd of 10,691 at their last home game. Tarleton has also won 13 straight regular-season games and currently holds the fourth-longest streak in NCAA-DII with 10 straight wins at home.

Tarleton is currently 4-0 this season and 2-0 in the LSC and beat FCS Stephen F. Austin 37-26 on the road to open the season. 

The Texans are ranked No. 4 in the most recent American Football Coaches Association poll after starting the season 4-0. They beat FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin 37-26 on the road earlier this season. They will host No. 23 Angelo State on Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the Small College Spotlight Game of the Week.

Head coach Todd Whitten became the school’s all-time winningest coach following the Texans 49-7 win over UT Permian Basin last week. Whitten has 72 career wins and broke a record set in 1935 by W.J. Wisdom.

The Texans have enjoyed a rich basketball history in the LSC having appeared in the NCAA D-II playoffs 14 times since 2002. Tarleton has also made two Final Four appearances along with winning four LSC championships under former head coach and current Athletic Director Lonn Reisman.

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