Southland Conference Completes Site Visit
to UNO

Southland ConferenceUNO President Peter J. Fos addressed the media at a press conference as the Southland Conference concluded a two-day site visit to the University of New Orleans.

The Southland Conference concluded a two-day site visit to the University of New Orleans early Thursday afternoon with a press conference.

The site visit team was headed by Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett, who was accompanied by Southeastern Louisiana University President John Crain, Stephen F. Austin State University President Baker Pattillo and McNeese State athletic director Tommy McClelland.

The two-day trip to the Crescent City served as an on-site review of the University as the Southland considers UNO, Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word for league membership.

Over the next three weeks, the Southland will visit the remaining two schools before the league’s Presidents reconvene to make a decision on its next step. Burnett is optimistic that this will occur at some point over the next 30 days.

In his remarks, Burnett stressed the importance of the greater New Orleans area to the league’s membership and how the geographic proximity weighs heavily on the success of the Southland.

“This is an area and a city that is very important to a lot of us in the Southland Conference,” said Burnett. “It is in our geographic footprint and we are in a conference where we have to be close to each other and geographic proximity is very important.”

“I believe it has allowed us to competitive and successful. We do not see that as a detriment to our conference and we think it allows our folks to be successful, achieve great things academically and we are looking for others who are interested in the same and can help us do that.”

Among the highlights of the two-day visit was an evening social with city and community leaders.

Wednesday night’s guests included state Senator Conrad Appel, state representative Jared Brossett and New Orleans City Council President Jackie Clarkson. UNO President Peter Fos feels the backing from the city, community and the alumni is critical to the success of the University as an NCAA Division I program.

“We are committed to having a successful NCAA Division I program, but we are not going to do it on our own,” said Fos. “We are working collaboratively with city and community leaders as well as our large alumni base to ensure our vitality as an athletic program.”

Meetings commenced throughout the day on Thursday as the site visit team met with members of UNO’s academic and athletic administration. A group of student-athletes from the Privateer men’s basketball and baseball team also had an opportunity to meet with the Southland contingent.

Before concluding, the Southland visit team had a chance to tour the University’s athletic facilities.

The constant theme for the nearly 24 hours that UNO hosted the league was the positive momentum coming from the Privateer athletic department.

Over the last few weeks, the University formally announced the hiring of Derek Morel as athletic director. That announcement was followed by the addition of men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field.

Further, the University has moved quickly to come in compliance with NCAA Division I membership requirements related to financial aid, sport sponsorship and scheduling. Prior to July 1, UNO could rely on a waiver stemming from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“The momentum of our athletic program is building,” said Fos. “We hope that joining the Southland Conference will be the next step in this exciting time.”

To see videos, photos and more, visit the UNO Privateers website.