first_imgFRISCO, Texas – The 2018 Southland Conference Spring Meeting came to a conclusion Wednesday, as administrators established future basketball enhancement initiatives, planned multiple strategic efforts, transitioned Conference governance roles and set future championships locations, including a brand new league event. Beginning Sunday afternoon, the Southland’s presidents, athletic directors, faculty representatives, senior woman administrators, and student-athletes from the 13 member institutions, and other special guests, gathered for a series of meetings and the league’s annual Honors Dinner here at the Westin Stonebriar Hotel. “The Board of Directors endorsed the men’s and women’s basketball competitive recommendations from the Advisory Council in a continuing effort to improve these important sports,” said Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett. “It’s the intention of the membership to increase competitive ratings of Conference teams and put them in a better position for postseason opportunities and success.” The presidential Board of Directors confirmed 2018-19 plans to actively work on emphasis areas listed in the Conference’s previously-approved strategic plan, including academics, competition, diversity and inclusion, and student-athlete experience. In the competitive area, league administrators approved an enhancement plan for men’s and women’s basketball, effective in 2019-20, including more athletic director involvement in scheduling efforts, an increase from 18 to 20 conference games to add more Division I opponents and an additional DI home game, an encouragement of more participation in multi-team events (MTEs), and a prohibition of intentionally scheduling opponents that finish 300 or worse in the previous year’s NCAA RPI rankings. The Board also finalized its distribution plans for the NCAA Division I Academic Fund that begins in 2019-20, and reviewed NCAA and Southland student-athlete transfer policies. The recently-released Commission on College Basketball report was a significant discussion item, and other legal issues in collegiate athletics and higher education were reviewed. The league leaders also reconfirmed their commitment and investment to instant replay technology in basketball and football, where the Southland was the first FCS conference in 2014 to fully-commit to replay regardless of television coverage of games. League members also selected locations for 2019-20 Southland championship events, including the league’s inaugural beach volleyball championship at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Central Arkansas was awarded both the women’s soccer and volleyball tournaments, while men’s and women’s tennis will take place at Lamar, and softball will be held at Southeastern Louisiana.  Many of the other 2019-20 championships are at pre-determined sites and some locations will be selected at a later date. Administrators also committed to continuing to review future tournament formats and seeding tie-breaker procedures in various sports with unbalanced schedules. Houston Baptist was the winner of the Southland’s Academic Performance Achievement Award, and Sam Houston State University earned the Southland Strong Community Service Award.  Sam Houston also took the 2017-18 Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup for overall athletic excellence, as well as the 2017-18 Men’s All-Sports Award.  Stephen F. Austin won the 2017-18 Women’s All-Sports Awards. There were also numerous changes in Conference governance roles this week, as the Board selected Central Arkansas President Houston Davis as its chair-elect for the 2018-19 academic year, thus assumes the Chair position in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. The Board also selected Abilene Christian President Phil Schubert as its next NCAA Division I Presidential Forum representative, following the term of current Forum member and Southeastern Louisiana President John Crain later this summer. The Advisory Council also rotated its officer positions for the next two academic years, as Northwestern State Athletic Director Greg Burke becomes the group’s president, Sam Houston State Associate Athletic Director Chris Thompson becomes vice president, and Houston Baptist Faculty Representative Bobby Towery moves into the Secretary-Treasurer position. At the league’s annual Honors Dinner, three Southland Conference legends were inducted as the Class of 2018 – former Lamar University President Jimmy Simmons, former Northwestern State softball student-athlete Rhonda Rube Baird, and Southland Conference Volleyball Coordinator Linda Fletcher, who was inducted posthumously.   Stephen F. Austin football student-athlete Marlon Walls as the 2018 male recipient of the Southland’s F.L. McDonald Postgraduate Scholarship Award, and Central Arkansas softball student-athlete Kate Myers was honored as the 2018 female recipient of the McDonald Scholarship.  Central Arkansas also swept the male and female Steve McCarty Citizenship Awards, as UCA women’s tennis student-athlete Marli Van Heerden and men’s basketball student-athlete Otas Iyekekpolor were presented the honors.last_img