FORT WORTH, Texas – McMurry University has once again found a conference home for its football program, when it was announced today that the school has accepted an invitation from the Lone Star Conference to compete as an affiliated member beginning in 2014. The announcement of McMurry’s addition was made by LSC commissioner Stan Wagnon at the league’s annual pre-season Media Day at the downtown Embassy Suites.
“It is with great anticipation for the future that we are welcoming McMurry’s football team back into the Lone Star Conference,” Wagnon said. “This a decision that should bring great benefit to the student-athletes at McMurry as they will enjoy competing in the Football Festival at Cowboys Stadium, taking part in our exciting new conference playoff and competing alongside some of the best NCAA Division II programs around.
“This move also adds great value to the LSC. McMurry has been very competitive as it transitions into membership at the Division II level, winning eight ballgames last year. Additionally, their location in Abilene is ideal, and bringing to eight the total number of LSC football teams is a perfect fit for our new scheduling model.”
This will actually be the second go-round in the Lone Star Conference for McMurry, as the school’s athletics teams were originally LSC members from 1964-72. In the eight seasons (1964-71), McM football’s best showings were back-to-back third place finishes in 1967 & 1968.
The affiliation with the LSC is for football only. The War Hawks’ remaining conference-affiliated teams compete in the Heartland Conference (which does not sponsor football). The University is currently in its second year of the three-year transition cycle to full NCAA Division II membership.
McMurry Director of Athletics Ron Holmes sees the return of McMurry football to the Lone Star Conference as a win-win situation.
“We are excited to once again see our football program competing as a member of the Lone Star Conference,” Holmes said. “It does so many positive things for our program, like making travel more geographically desirable, less missed class time and helping to create fan interest with these in-state rivalries. It’s nice to renew some old friendships on the field with fellow Texas institutions.
“With the Lone Star Conference we are also getting to play some of the top NCAA II teams in the nation. We want our program to become one of the best and, to do that, we need to face the best on a regular basis.”
Even with its 2013 schedule – in which the War Hawks will face five LSC foes as a tune-up – McMurry will be taking on one opponent it has not played since 1957 (West Texas A&M), three it has not seen since it’s last LSC campaign in 1971 (Texas A&M-Kingsville, Angelo State and Texas A&M-Commerce) and one last battled in 1994 (Midwestern State).
McMurry completed play in NCAA III in 2012, advancing to the NCAA playoffs for the first time in school history before being ousted in the second round. Last year, playing as an NCAA II independent, the War Hawks went 8-3 and won the inaugural C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl for Division II teams, defeating Southern Arkansas (36-35).
“We are very excited to join the Lone Star Conference,” McM Head Coach Mason Miller said. “I believe it is one of the premier conferences in Division II. I believe this is a great day for our program and university.
“We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, as far as, building towards some of the great programs in this conference. However, I feel that now a student-athlete can get a great education, as well as compete against great programs. This will be helpful towards getting the type of student-athletes we want for McMurry.”