UTRGV to join the Southland Conference

Photo courtesy UTRGV Athletics

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UTRGV became the latest institution to move conferences after the Vaqueros announced they accepted an invitation to depart the Western Athletic Conference for the Southland Conference. The move will be official on July 1, 2024, with 11 of the school’s 14 programs, including football and men’s and women’s basketball, joining the Southland. 

"There are many benefits that this move will bring to our student-athletes, fans, and alumni,” UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque said in a press release. “The Southland Conference is positioned in a tight footprint between Texas and Louisiana. This will allow our student-athletes to spend less time traveling cross-country and more time at home training, recovering, and preparing for competition and will significantly reduce missed class time. With significantly reduced travel, there will be cost savings that allow our department to reinvest in the student-athlete experience in ways we haven't been able to before."

The move to the Southland Conference will significantly decrease UTRGV's travel. The total roundtrip mileage from UTRGV to all full-time Southland Conference institutions is 9,448 miles, compared to the 22,970-mile roundtrip from UTRGV to all WAC institutions. 

Travel for football will also decrease, as UTRGV's roundtrip distance to the other eight football-playing Southland Conference institutions is 7,780 miles, compared to the 19,612 miles of roundtrip travel to United Athletic Conference institutions. UTRGV will reduce its yearly travel by 25,354 miles for conference competitions.

“We are delighted to welcome the Vaqueros and their rich tradition of athletic and academic excellence to the Southland Conference,” Southland Conference Commissioner Chris Grant said. “In an era where too many college athletes are pushed beyond reasonable limits by travel related to away games, we are proud to add another great institution to our ‘gas tank league” featuring rich competition that is easily accessible to our student-athletes, families, and fans. We are thrilled to welcome an incredible institution that strengthens our league and its members while continuing to support and enhance the student-athlete experience.”

The move brings the Southland Conference's membership to 11 institutions, including fellow Texas schools Houston Christian, Lamar, Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and UIW as well as McNeese, New Orleans, Nicholls, Northwestern State, and Southeastern from Louisiana.

UTRGV is set to play a full FCS schedule in 2025 and recently announced the acquisition and naming of Robert and Janet Vackar Stadium, which will house the football program. The Vaqueros will also play at least one home game each season at Sam Memorial Stadium in Brownsville. UTRGV recently announced a road series against FBS Texas State in 2027 and 2030. Vaqueros head coach Travis Bush is an alum of Texas State and previously served on the Bobcats coaching staff from 2004 to 2009.

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