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A Comparison of Conferences

Tarleton State University is currently a member of the Lone Star Conference. Moving to Division I would require an invitation to join another conference, such as the Southland, which has members from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

In 2014, Collegiate Consulting prepared a feasibility study for Tarleton’s transition from DII to DI, a 159-page report that included a 7-page executive summary.

The Lone Star Conference

Lone Star Conference

Academic Success

The Division II Academic Success Rate is the four-year rolling average of graduation outcomes for student athletes. This includes student-athletes not receiving athletics aid to account for use of partial scholarships, unlike the Graduation Success Rate for Division I. With a student-athlete graduation rate of 54%, Tarleton has a 15% differential over total enrollment. In comparison, the Lone Star Conference has a -16% differential with a student-athlete graduation rate of 35%.

Long known as a leader in intercollegiate athletics, the Lone Star Conference™ (LSC) is an innovative athletics conference that aims to provide a superior competitive experience for member institutions and to allow for comprehensive development of student-athletes through academic service and life skills programming. The LSC continues to build upon its proud history while intending to be recognized as the premier NCAA Division II conference in the nation.

The league’s mission is to foster student participation and success among member institutions in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of each institution’s total educational program. The LSC shall pursue student-athlete development with highest regard to the principles of academic excellence, graduation success, sportsmanship, ethical conduct, resourcefulness, community service gender equity and diversity.

LSC Membership History

The LSC was founded on April 25, 1931 and has developed from a five-team conference of Texas-based schools to an 11-member league that spans three states (Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico). The league continues to assist its member institutions in the maintenance of intercollegiate athletic programs that are compatible with the highest standards of education and competitive sports. Throughout the league's 86-year history, various institutions have competed under the LSC banner. Today, only Texas A&M University-Commerce (then East Texas State) remains from the original group that was formed in 1931 when North Texas State, Southwest Texas State, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin withdrew from the old Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

The membership alignment has changed over the years, with current members added from 1954 to 2016. Texas A&M-Kingsville (formerly Texas A&I) joined in 1954, and Angelo State in 1968. Conference membership remained within the Texas borders until 1984 when Eastern New Mexico was admitted. Since then, the LSC has included members from Arkansas and Oklahoma. Cameron (1988, 1996) was added near the outset of an expansion phase, while Texas Woman's (1989) and previous members West Texas A&M (1986, 1993) and Tarleton State (1968, 1994) joined the league soon after.

While the LSC has maintained a long-standing tradition of competitive athletic programs for its members, many teams and individuals have gone on to distinguish themselves on the national stage. Entering 2017-18, LSC member institutions have collected 76 NCAA team national championships since the league joined the Division II membership in 1982. The LSC conducts conference championships in 17 sports (eight men and nine women). Men's championships include football, cross country, basketball, baseball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis. Women's titles are determined in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis and golf.

The Southland Conference

Southland Conference

Graduation Success

The Graduation Success Rate for the Southland Conference compared with Division I has a 7% differential with an overall graduation rate of 42% and a student-athlete graduation rate of 49%. Similar to the Tarleton average, the Southland average GSR is 73% for baseball players. The largest variance in men’s sports is basketball, with a 38% difference from the Southland average. Tarleton softball is 18% above the Southland GSR average, whereas volleyball is 17% below their average.

Beginning with a historic meeting of five institutions in Dallas on March 15, 1963, the Southland Conference is well into its sixth decade of service as a model of innovation, stability and consistent achievement and celebrates the academic and athletic accomplishments of its member institutions and approximately 4,200 student-athletes. Having commemorated its 50th anniversary in 2013, the Southland Conference has transformed itself into a dynamic and respected consortium of 13 member universities in three states. The successful transformation continued, as the Southland Conference welcomed four additional members in 2013: Abilene Christian University, Houston Baptist University, the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and the University of New Orleans.

In addition to its newest members, the Southland consists of the University of Central Arkansas, Lamar University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Sam Houston State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. An original Southland member from 1963-73, Abilene Christian rejoined the league as one of the most decorated athletic programs in NCAA history; and the addition of Houston Baptist, UIW and New Orleans gives the Southland a regular competitive presence in the key metropolitan areas of Houston, San Antonio and New Orleans. Southland cities encompass approximately 14 million people, and six of its television markets rank among the top 100 in the U.S.

Current Membership & Sponsorship

The membership of the Southland encompasses nearly 140,000 current students and an alumni base of 800,000. The Southland sponsors 17 championship sports, all at the NCAA Division I level. The eight men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. The women compete for nine championships in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball. The conference earns automatic qualification to NCAA championships in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, and volleyball.

The Southland Bowling League, an affiliated conference sport, originated in 2015, and four of its members filled out half of the eight-team NCAA Championship bracket, with Stephen F. Austin winning the national championship in 2016. The Southland enjoys multiple national and regional television broadcast agreements and relationships with ESPN Networks, Cox Sports Television, Root Sports Southwest, Fox College Sports and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel. In recent years, the conference has won numerous broadcast awards for its quality of production. The Southland Conference, in conjunction with the city of Frisco, Texas, and Hunt Sports Group, also serves as the host to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game in Frisco, which has been home to the conference headquarters since 2006. The game is played at Frisco's Toyota Stadium, and after a pair of successful three-year agreements, the Southland and its partners were rewarded with a four-year renewal to serve as the national championship host site through the 2020 season.