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Speaking of the Southland

NCAA Shows Flexibility to Frisco, La. Schools Could Avoid Budget Cuts

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Richard Durett of [url=]announced an NCAA decision[/url] in his most recent writing pertaining to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game.

In his article, Durrett quotes Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett, who says the NCAA would work with "local officials and ESPN" to shift the date of the game in 2011, since it would be head to head against the Cotton Bowl.

This coming year is the first time that the contest would conflict with the bowl season as the championship game will no longer be held in December, due to the additional four teams that extend the playoffs by a round.

The NCAA's willingness to work with the bid committee and ESPN is a positive sign for Frisco's efforts.

The next major date in the process is on Feb. 25 as both Frisco and Chattanooga will present presentations to the Division I Football Championship Committee.

In addition to the "title fight" between Chattanooga and Frisco, another big story in the league that has not gained the notoriety it should, may have come to an end - albeit for awhile.

On Thursday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's [url=]proposed 2010-11 budget does not include any cuts to higher education[/url].

Louisiana higher education has been riddled by cuts to a tally of $250 million over the last 18 months. The cuts included a devastating mid-year cut and expectations were that further budget cuts were on the horizon.

The SLC schools in Louisiana have a disadvantage in the dollars and cents compared to those in Texas. The Texas portion of the league has seen the disparity only increase as the schools in Louisiana have not been able to contribute as much from the general fund to supplement other revenues in wake of the cuts.

Further cuts could have potentially crippled a few of the league schools and while the schools can breath a sigh of relief, nothing is certain until the final budget passes the Louisiana Legislature in mid-to-late June.

The cuts that have already occurred have already made a significant impact on Division I athletics in the state.

The University of New Orleans recently received approval to move out of the Sun Belt Conference. That school is currently awaiting final approval to begin a move to Division III. Though not a public school, Centenary is also beginning the process to move to the non-scholarship Division III. The two schools were the only Division I programs in the state without football.

A schedule announcement that we failed to cover is that of [url=]Southeastern Louisiana[/url].

The Lions will play their first five games in the Pelican State, starting with a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) encounter with Tulane on Thursday, Sept. 2. The game will most likely be on television.

The season continues with out of conference home dates with Ohio Valley member Tennessee-Martin and 2011 SLC entrant Lamar, before finishing with an in-state contest against Louisiana-Monroe, another FBS squad.

SLU should be one of the favorites in the league race, but outside of playing two FBS schools, will have the unenviable task of playing 3 of 4 on the road to end the slate. Those contests included a trip to leading candidate to win the league in 2010 - Stephen F. Austin - and the annual River Bell battle against Nicholls to close the season.

[b]Quick Hits[/b]

A museum dedicated to record-setting Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson opened yesterday in Grambling, La. Though Robinson coached in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, this is a significant recognition of a FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) school's legacy right in the SLC geographic footprint. Robinson won 408 games and had 45 winning seasons. More information on the museum can be found at [url=][/url].

McNeese quarterback Derrick Fourroux was named the school's [url=]football most valuable player for 2009[/url]. Fourroux became the first quarterback to receive the honor since Kerry Joseph in 1995. Other major award winners included running back Toddrick Pendland (Offensive Player of the Year) and defensive tackle Desmund Lighten (Defensive Player of the Year).

Central Arkansas defensive end Larry Hart was mentioned by [url=][/url] as one of the NFL Combine snubs. Not listed amongst the top 10 snubs, Hart was on the others considered list with such marquee FCS players as Elon WR Terrell Hudgins and Jacksonville State QB Ryan Perrilloux.

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