The Sooner Athletic Conference is back where it started. After losing five teams in the last two years, the SAC announced Tuesday that it is adding three north Texas teams to the fray.
Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas; Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas; and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas are leaving the Red River Conference to become the newest members of the SAC.
Those schools will join Southwestern Christian University. Southwestern, based in Bethany, Okla., plays in the Midland Conference, which is a Div. II NAIA Conference. By adding four schools, the SAC will have 11 programs beginning in fall 2013.
“Getting us back up to 11 teams puts us in a good position to be one of the premier, if not the premier, conferences in the NAIA,” said Nicholas Robinson, director of sports information.
The three Dallas Metroplex teams were top-level members of the Red River Conference and will easily adjust to life in the SAC, added Robyn Daugherty, director of athletics.
“It made sense for us to move together,” said Jack Allday, Northwood University athletic director. “We think our schools are very much like those in the SAC.”
The SAC approached the three Texas schools in December, Allday said.
Daugherty said Southwestern Christian only became serious about joining in the last six weeks.
The SAC may not be done adding schools, though.
“Adding these teams sets us up well,” said Robinson. “It plays into the future and some other teams that we may add.”
Daugherty would not elaborate pursued, but did say that the conference is “continuing to talk to more schools for fall 2014” and that they are “getting positive responses.”
The inclusion of these teams changes the geographic makeup of the conference, replacing Oklahoma schools a short drive away with teams farther away from Siloam Springs.
That means more driving, but Daugherty said it also provides an opportunity for recruiting.
“[Dallas-Fort Worth] is a huge recruiting area for the school,” said Daugherty. “Playing [there] is going to give us a lot of visibility in an area where we get a lot of students.”
That makes selling the program a bit easier, Robinson said.
“Our coaches will be able to reach out to [recruits] and say that we’re going to be playing in their backyard now, [so] come out and see what style of play we have,” Robinson said.
However, the addition of SAC teams in the area also may make recruiting more competitive.
“We may see some competition for those recruits, but we have a veteran presence recruiting in Texas,” said Robinson. “Athletically we are doing well and academically we are a strong institution, so I think we will have the upper hand.”