Monday, July 1, 2013

UNO Officially Becomes Member of Southland Conference


Admission to Southland Begins Exciting Month of July 

The Southland Conference has undergone several transformations over its 50 years of existence, making its most recent change official on Monday with the addition of four schools including the University of New Orleans.

UNO joins the Frisco, Texas-based conference alongside Abilene Christian University, Houston Baptist University and the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio. These additions allow the Southland to grow to a 14-team league for the first time in its history.

In addition to its newest members, the Southland Conference also consists of the University of Central Arkansas, Lamar University, McNeese State University, Oral Roberts University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Sam Houston State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Monday's admission allows UNO to cement its feet firmly back in NCAA Division I and begins an exciting month of July for the department.

Over the next 30 days, the University will announce a new head baseball coach and unveil its new athletic logo. A festive celebration is also in the works to help usher in this new era of Privateer Athletics and provide a kickoff to the 2013-14 academic year.

During the next 12 months, UNO will compete in 14 league sports including men's basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. Women's sports competing within the league include basketball, cross country, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball.

In what the University hopes is a sign of things to come, the Privateer men's tennis team got an early start as an affiliate member of the league this past year, finishing as Southland runner-up. Five different members of the squad earned 'Player of the Week' honors with UNO also boasting the conference 'Student-Athlete of the Year' and 'Newcomer of the Year' amongst other recognition.

From its beginning in 1969, the Privateers' athletic program has enjoyed a storied history, including its formative years as a Division II powerhouse, earning national rankings and winning national championships. The UNO men's golf program won consecutive DII national championships in 1971 and 1972, and its men's basketball and baseball teams both played in NCAA championship games. The program joined Division I in 1975, and became a charter member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976.

The Privateers won an infamous Sun Belt tournament championship game over South Alabama in 1978 by a 22-20 final score that helped usher in the use of a shot clock in the NCAA. The UNO men's basketball team has played in four NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championships, and finished the 1987 and 1993 seasons ranked in the final Associated Press national polls. Its women's basketball program has also enjoyed success, winning the Women's NIT in 1983.

UNO played a significant role in serving as host to many NCAA postseason events in New Orleans, including the 1987, 1993, and 2003 NCAA Men's Final Fours, the 1991 Women's Final Four, and the 2002 Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.

Its baseball program, under the legendary leadership of Ron Maestri, became the first Louisiana school to reach the Division I College World Series in 1984, and has consistently competed for postseason berths since then. Dozens of former UNO student-athletes have gone on to productive careers in professional baseball, including current Kansas City Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella.

UNO's on-campus athletic facilities include the 10,000-seat Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena, opened in 1983 as home to Privateers' basketball, the UNO Aquatic Center, and practice courts for basketball and volleyball. The facility also ranks among the nation's top revenue-producing multi-purpose and entertainment venues of its size.

Currently undergoing a major renovation with new grandstand seating and a press box, Maestri Field at Privateer Park remains one of the South's finest baseball facilities. The grand re-opening of the facility is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2014 against nationally-ranked LSU. Over the years, Maestri Field has twice played host to NCAA Division I regionals and also served as the home facility of the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs for four seasons.

The University Tennis Center is one of the premier tennis facilities in the South, featuring 20 deco-turf hard courts and six red clay courts. In addition to UNO tennis teams, the facility annually hosts numerous USTA professional events and adult leagues, as well as other college and high school tournaments.

The Human Performance Center is the primary facility for UNO volleyball, and served as the former home of the basketball teams. Historic Tad Gormley Stadium, located in New Orleans' City Park, is home for the recently re-established UNO track & field teams and also hosts numerous football games throughout the season.

Over the next few weeks, fans of the program are encouraged to follow the athletic department's web site (UNOPrivateers.com), official Twitter (@UNOPrivateers) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/UNOPrivateers) for more exciting news.

 

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