CONFIRMED: SFA returning to the Southland Conference

Photo courtesy SFA Athletics

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Sources have confirmed to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football that  Stephen F. Austin will depart the Western Athletic Conference and return to the Southland Conference. The move will happen for the 2024-2025 academic year. An official announcement is expected on Wednesday. Kyle McDonald first reported the news on WACHoopsNation on X/Twitter.

The Lumberjacks are returning to a different Southland Conference than they left in 2021. At that time, the future of the SLC was in question after Sam Houston, Lamar, and Abilene Christian joined Tarleton in the WAC. UIW was set to join the ‘Texas Four’ before the 2022-2023 school year. But that was before Chris Grant became Commissioner of the Southland Conference.

Since Grant’s arrival, he has made the SLC one of the most stable FCS conferences. UIW chose to remain in the conference, and Lamar returned to the Southland after one season in the WAC. Sam Houston left for Conference USA in July 2023. UTRGV announced its decision to leave the WAC and join the Southland in March of this year. The SLC will have 12 full-time members on July 1st.

On the other side is the WAC, which is suddenly facing a fate the Southland was facing a mere three years ago. The WAC lost Sam Houston and New Mexico State to CUSA. The conference's future remained stable after UTRGV announced its departure. However, Grand Canyon and Seattle University announced they were leaving the WAC for the West Coast Conference for the 2025-2026 academic year. 

The WAC formed a football alliance with the Atlantic Sun Conference to form the United Athletic Conference in 2023 after working under an alliance to maintain an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs in 2022. The goal was to transition the entire UAC to FBS in roughly 10 years. With SFA's departure, the UAC is reduced to eight members.

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