Sam Houston heading to CUSA, BOTPW in doubt

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The only thing that has stopped SFA and Sam Houston State University from playing football against each other has been World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic. Conference Realignment may soon be added to that list.

Sam Houston is heading to Conference-USA less than six months after joining the Western Athletic Conference with rival SFA this past July. Sam Houston will be joining the league along with fellow WAC member New Mexico State as well as Liberty University and Jacksonville State beginning July 1, 2023. The move will bring the Bearkats and Jacksonville State up to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“While we certainly are disappointed about the news today, we wish both institutions, Sam Houston and new Mexico State, well in their next endeavors,” SFA Director of Athletics Ryan Ivey said. “The SFA-Sam Houston connection has a long, storied history, going all the way back to the men themselves.  While we believe that we have always been stronger together, we respect and appreciate their decision.”

The move could put on hold the oldest college football rivalry in Texas. SFA and Sam houston have played against each other 95 times since 1925 in the Battle of the Piney Woods.. The Kats lead the all-time series 58-35-2. The two did not play between 1942-1945 and in 2020. Ivey said that there is a lot to be discussed on how to move forward with the game since Sam Houston will be in the FBS and SFA will remain in the FCS ranks.

“Our focus remains in our ability to strengthen the Western Athletic Conference,” Ivey said. “Our feelings for the growth potential of the WAC haven’t changed, and we look forward to working with the remaining institutions to realize that potential.  We will continue to focus on making SFA Athletics the leading mid-major athletics department in the nation, while providing a quality experience for our student-athletes.”

The WAC has sent letters to Southland members McNesse State and Incarnate Word offering them membership into the league.

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