In a sense, UIW not joining the WAC was probably a good thing. At least basketball-wise. And Lamar choosing to leave the WAC right after UIW made its decision to not join was, for lack of a better word, pathetic.
But, both UIW and Lamar made the choice to become Southland Strong.
The UIW news came June 24, 2022, just six days before the Cardinals were to become official members of the WAC.
Here is a snippet from the WAC Hoops Digest article in June.
“We are excited to be joining the WAC,” UIW Athletic Director Richard Duran says in his press statement. “This will raise the profile of all our sports teams and give our student-athletes a chance to compete on a different level. We consistently ask our students to be champions in the classroom, the community and in competition. This move will provide them the opportunity to do just that.”
But, on Friday, UIW said that it is recommitting to growing the Southland Conference.
“Ever since I arrived at this university, we have continuously looked to position UIW Athletics for success at the Division I level,” says UIW Athletic Director Richard Duran. “Given the rapid change happening within Division I conferences across the nation, we believe we are best positioned for continued success in the Southland Conference. This will allow our student-athletes to continue to show their talents in the classroom, in the community and in competition.”
So, schedules had to be adjusted. The WAC was left in a bind with football. And one has to wonder if UIW was ever serious when it was announced on Nov. 12, 2021 that it would be joining the WAC. Probably not. But, we will leave the speculation to others.
And Lamar, well, that was an interesting story, as well. Athletic Director Marco Born was put on leave. Born was a big part of Lamar moving to the WAC with the Texas 4. So, with Born out, the administration decided it was going back to the Southland…in the 2023-24 season. Well, two weeks after UIW made its decision to not join the WAC, Lamar made an early transition to move back to the Southland. Once again, leaving scheduling around the WAC in a bind.
It’s hard to not say there was some gamesmanship between the institutions. But, from a basketball standpoint, it really wasn’t a loss. UIW is at 337 and Lamar at 355 in the NET rankings. Lamar was winless in its lone season in the WAC, finishing 0-18 and not making the WAC Tournament.