The American Southwest Conference football landscape shrunk to just four programs a little sooner than originally anticipated on Tuesday afternoon.
The Southern College Athletic Conference published a press release announcing that Texas Lutheran, currently an ASC football affiliate, will rejoin the SCAC for football in 2024, rather than in 2025, as was initially expected when the SCAC made the decision to sponsor football once again last November.
The 2024 football season will be the SCAC’s first since dropping the sport in 2017, and is set to include five institutions playing a double round-robin format; Austin College, Lyon College, Centenary (La.), McMurry, and now, TLU.
“Texas Lutheran University is thankful for the opportunities that our affiliate membership in the ASC provided,” said TLU Athletics Director Bill Miller in the SCAC press release. “The ASC is a very strong football conference. However, TLU is tremendously excited about playing SCAC Football. It is going to be great to have all our sports programs playing in the same conference once again. The SCAC has been a good fit for TLU.”
TLU is coming off a 2-8 season in 2023, including a 1-5 record in ASC play. The Bulldogs were one of the four programs that competed in the SCAC for football through 2016, the final year the league sponsored the sport. All of TLU’s other athletic programs continued playing in the SCAC while the football program was part of the ASC.
“I give a lot of credit to the football coaches and athletic directors at Austin College, Centenary, McMurry and Lyon for their willingness to adjust their schedules in order to bring Texas Lutheran aboard a season early,” said SCAC commissioner Dwayne Hanberry in the same release. “Once TLU expressed an interest in beginning their SCAC football journey in 2024, everyone was very excited to do what we could to accommodate their request.”
The SCAC conference schedule has already been released, with league games beginning on September 14.
Simultaneously, the ASC heads into 2024 composed of just four programs; Mary Hardin-Baylor, Hardin-Simmons, East Texas Baptist, and Howard Payne. TLU’s departure does not affect the two-year grace period given to conferences who fall below the six-institution threshold in each sport for an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III postseason. In other words, an ASC school is still guaranteed to be in the D-III playoff field for each of the next two seasons.
As for UMHB in particular, little is known about the 2024 schedule or how it will look. According to D3football.com’s 2024 Open Dates page, UMHB currently has open dates in Weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4.