What's next for the Southland?

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

If you want a good example of just how quickly things can change thanks to conference realignment, just take a look at the Southland.

Just a month ago, it was reasonable to wonder if the Southland was going to continue to exist. In January, the league lost Central Arkansas to the ASUN, and Lamar, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian to the WAC. The Southland's initial strategy – to try and replace the lost institutions by recruiting HBCUs from the SWAC – was not successful.

To make matters worse, more defections appeared likely. Earlier this fall, officials from both Incarnate Word and McNeese State traveled to Denver to give presentations to WAC officials, hoping to earn an invitation. Both presentations were well received by WAC member institutions.

A loss of one, and especially two more football-playing schools would have been a blow from which the Southland may not have been able to recover. The league was able to add one D-II school, Texas A&M Commerce, but with McNeese and UIW's long-term membership appearing wobbly, the long-term future of the Southland appeared very much in doubt. Industry sources told Extra Points that Southland leaders were even considering a potential merger with the Ohio Valley Conference.

But then, last weekend, everything changed.

I've reached out to officials at and near Southland schools, WAC schools, and industry sources, to try and best understand why this happened, and what may happen next.

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