BEAUMONT, Texas — It's been quite a journey over the past few months, but today it became official, Lamar University is a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
The Cardinals are joined by former Southland members Abilene Christian, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin.
Along with current WAC institutions California Baptist, Chicago Sstate, Dixie State which is about to be known as Utah Tech, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, Seattle, Tarleton, UTRGV and Utah Valley.
Southern Utah will join next year, while Chicago State will be leaving.
Athletic Director Marco Born is excited about new rivalries.
"I think obviously we want to compete for championships very quickly and be competitive in the league. But more than anything seeing some new faces. You know we talked about it the other day, we're the furthest east (after Chicago State leaves the league next year) in the WAC now as an institution so we're going to be traveling west. Our student athletes to experience, to see places they haven't been to. In basketball they go to Las Vegas every year. And our track team is going to get to go to Seattle for their championships. And just seeing some parts of the country our student athletes have probably never traveled to or never will be able to travel to again once they're finished with us. So just the experience and seeing some familiar faces and some likeminded institutions, just being part of that brand of the WAC. Just overall excited for our student athletes and our fans and alumni."
With the move comes upgrades. New turf is down at Provost Umphrey Stadium while the volleyball court at McDonald Gym has also received a fresh look. Next up is the court at the Montagne Center.
"You know it's perfect timing. I think you and I have talked about this before. It's perfect timing to redo the football turf and put the WAC logo on it. We did the volleyball floor already. We're going to redo the basketball floor here in July. It's going to look very similar to the volleyball floor with the LU logo in the midcourt. It just comes with it and I think that's part of the excitement for our student athletes just to see something new when they come back and to associate that with the WAC logo is certainly a nice thing. I think the field looks really clean, really clean. It pops. The volleyball too. Just a clean look. Not to busy at all. Just exciting to do some facility upgrades for sure."