• Kale Steed

Tarleton’s moving on, what’s next for LSC football?

Tarleton State University announced that its athletic programs are moving to Division I next season. [Photo credit Tarleton athletics]

Tarleton State University made the stunning announcement Monday they were leaving the Lone Star Conference to become a Division I athletic program, receiving an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference.

The Texans football program will play as an Independent while all other sports will compete in the WAC.

This is a gut punch when it comes to the football teams in the LSC.

Tarleton has been a staple in the league since 1994-1995. 

The city of Stephenville, where Tarleton is located, is in the perfect spot for an LSC school.

It hurts more that the Texans have been the league’s best football team over the past two seasons.

So where does the LSC go from here?

Before we look forward it’s smart to mention this is third school to leave the conference for D1 since 2013 when Abilene Christian and Incarante Word made the leap.

And for those fans asking if West Texas A&M is next to make the jump to D1, WT has the facilities but athletic director Michael McBroom has stated more than once there aren’t any plans for WT athletics to leave DII. The LSC announced last spring it was expanding to a 19-team league, absorbing the Heartland Conference, but not one of those schools brought a football program.

There’s been rumblings of UT Tyler’s football program moving into Division II but there’s been nothing in the works to back those whispers.

Tarleton’s void leaves a very respected football conference with eight members — Angelo State, Eastern New Mexico, Midwestern State, Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas A&M-Kingsville, West Texas A&M, University of Texas-Permian Basin and Western New Mexico.

Scheduling becomes the first issue. 

Conferences around Division II are doing its best to lock its schedule within their respective leagues.

As of now, the LSC and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference have a scheduling agreement through 2022.

Say LSC commissioner Jay Poerner and GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund agreed to add Azusa Pacific, Central Washington, Simon Fraser, Western Oregon to the LSC.

That makes the conference at 12-member league. However, can travel from Texas to the West coast be a long-term solution with limited funding?

Is there a possibility of bringing in Rocky Mountain Athletic schools or Great American Conference schools as football only members?

Colorado State-Pueblo, Colorado Mines from the RMAC, as well as Northwestern Oklahoma State and former LSC member Southwestern Oklahoma State from the GAC fit in the regional realm. 

I don’t see former LSC school Central Oklahoma leaving the powerhouse Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association anytime soon. 

It will be interesting to see what Poerner and the conference does going forward. Whatever happens do know Poerner and the LSC will do what’s best. 

Covering this conference the past 10 years, it’s one thing I’ve always seen.

Stay tuned.

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