The Southland Conference board of directors brought the league’s annual spring meeting to a close last Wednesday morning, approving the use of full NCAA instant replay to its home football games beginning this fall.
The university presidents also confirmed that the 2015-17 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments will remain committed to the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy.
Meeting at the Westin Stonebriar Hotel in Frisco, the Southland board moved on the immediate implementation of full replay for football, regardless of television coverage of games, instead of the limited method of halftime review for first-half targeting fouls that was recently approved by the NCAA.
“The board, based on the input provided by our football coaches and athletic directors in recent weeks, was very firm in its approval of full instant replay at our stadiums,” Southland commissioner Tom Burnett said.
“While there are numerous details ahead and some challenges to work through, the presidents were ready to get the process started and ensure our league was at the forefront of replay usage at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision level.”
The Southland Conference is the first FCS league to fully commit to having all games utilize instant replay.
The NCAA Division I Football Championship has replay for its playoff games, and a number of other FCS leagues have implemented replay only for televised games. Within its longstanding officiating consortium with the Big 12 and Mountain West conferences, the Southland will draw from the pool of replay officials already being trained.
The presidents unanimously supported extending the conference basketball tournament’s run in Katy, where the event had been held since 2008.
“The membership has expressed a strong level of approval with the tournament’s location, the venue, the experience our teams are enjoying, and the local support provided to the conference,” Burnett added.
In other news, 2015-16 championship sites were selected, including soccer and volleyball at Central Arkansas, tennis at Stephen F. Austin, and softball at McNeese State.
Also, a computerized football ratings system, the NCAA Simple Rating System (SRS) will be integrated into the conference’s tie-breaking procedures in the case of two teams tying for the championship (and NCAA automatic bid) if the tie cannot first be decided in the numerous other competitive scenarios.
During the Spring Meeting’s Honors Ceremony, the Southland also inducted two new members into its Hall of Honor, PGA Tour golfer Chris Stroud, a former Lamar standout, and former McNeese State football coach Bobby Keasler, the program’s all-time winningest coach who also led the Cowboys to the 1997 NCAA Division I-AA National Championship Game.
Six accomplished student-athletes, all graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average, were honored during the meetings with the conference’s F.L. McDonald Postgraduate Scholarship (Michael Chamberlain, baseball, Houston Baptist; Nora-Beth Saunders, women’s cross country and track & field, Lamar; Heather McPherson, women’s track & field, Stephen F. Austin; Jordan Hanberry, football, Nicholls State; Megan McMillan, volleyball, Southeastern Louisiana; Cassandra Shaw, women’s tennis, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi).
The Northwestern State pair of Amy Williams, women’s tennis, and Quinton Helaire, men’s track & field, was honored as the 2013-14 Steve McCarty Citizenship Award winners. Northwestern State also claimed the 2013-14 Southland Conference Academic Performance Rate Award for overall classroom performance by all teams during the last four years.
During the week, athletic administrators and presidents also addressed the ongoing NCAA Division I governance restructuring process, legal issues impacting intercollegiate athletics, and plans for APR improvement.
Bridget Martin, associate athletic director at McNeese State, will begin a two-year term as president of the Southland’s Advisory Council on July 1, 2014, and Stephen F. Austin Athletic Director Robert Hill will become vice president. Hsing-Wei Chu, faculty athletic representative at Lamar University, will continue in his role as secretary-treasurer.