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Speaking of the Southland

Louisiana Schools Could Feel Pinch & Plenty of SLC Notes

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In perhaps one of the bigger stories of the off-season, several schools in the Southland Conference could soon face a financial pinch. Unlike college realignment, the final result of this situation could play out sooner than later.

In the months' ahead, the four SLC schools based in Louisiana will be contemplating how to deal with an expected 23 percent cut to higher education during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The impact on the schools' athletic departments are not known at this point, but the slashing of state support for higher education stems from the Louisiana Legislature's decision to not maintain the Stelly Tax, the federal stimulus money running out and the state's limited options in what they can cut from the state budget.

The state's legislature has provided some support to help alleviate the cuts by allowing the schools to increase tuition.

As of post time, there has been no official information from the schools pertaining to how they will handle the cuts.

McNeese State, Nicholls, Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State are part of the University of Louisiana System (ULS). The two other major systems in the state are the Southern University Sytem and the Louisiana State University System.

Though no schools in the SLC are in the LSU system, a [url=]letter from the system's Chancellor[/url] may be a glimpse of how the ULS schools will handle the cuts.

The first tier of recommended cuts per the letter include reductions in funding to "such things as museums, galleries, sports activities, community service, public relations, and similar valuable functions that nonetheless do not directly sustain teaching and research."

The cuts are nothing new for Louisiana and in particular, the schools in the SLC.

Prior to the 2009-10 school year, SLU cut its men's tennis program while Nicholls eliminated its women's golf team. The cuts put the Lions at 15 programs while the Colonels are hovering at the minimum of 14 (six men, eight women).

Elsewhere in the state, Southern eliminated its men's tennis and women's golf teams while both Centenary (a private institution based in Shreveport) and New Orleans have started the process of transitioning to Division III.

The cuts continue around the state this year as Grambling in contemplating cutting as many as four sports in wake of the budget cuts. If GSU did cut four sports, they would be left at 15 sports - one above the NCAA minimum.

For some further insight into the 2008-09 budgets of the state's Football Championship Subdivision schools, the [url=]USA Today has a database[/url] of financial numbers.

One of the areas of note in the financial figures is the direct institutional support, an area that could potentially face cuts in light of the budget situation. Of the FCS schools listed in the state, (Southern is not included in the list) each relies on these funds for at least 46 percent of their budget with SLU at 68.64 percent the most reliant followed by Grambling at 64.53 percent.

It probably will not be much longer until the schools decide their route moving forward for presentation to their system boards. In light of the budget cuts, several SLC schools have already announced academic reorganizations including [url=]Northwestern[/url].

This is a situation we'll continue to follow at CSN.

[B]Notes from Around the League[/B]

* The Southland Conference [url=]announced its 2010 television schedule[/url] in mid-June. The slate includes nine conference games and a lone out of conference contest between Sam Houston State and Gardner-Webb. Other highlights of the schedule include the first Battle of the Piney Woods at Reliant Stadium on Oct. 23 and the league's annual Wild Card game on Nov. 20. Broadcast affiliates cover the league footprint from Austin and San Antonio to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

* Phil Steele [url=]announced his preseason All-SLC teams[/url] this past week. The most glaring omission was Karrington Bush, who is [url=]back and better than ever[/url] according to the San Marcos Daily Record. Questions also arise at quarterback where LaQuintin Caston of Nicholls was listed despite a likely move to wide receiver. Feedback from other league followers felt that of returning players, Paul Harris (NWST) would be a better selection.

* Central Arkansas head coach Clint Conque [url=]signed a new five-year contract on June 23rd[/url]. For fans of the league and the UCA program, there is no explanation needed. Conque has gone out and orchestrated a successful transition of the Bears' football team from Division II to Division I. To date, he has no SLC championships to his credit, but the year his team topped the standings, he was named SLC Coach of the Year and amongst the finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award.

* A busy off-season for Conque as far as dealing with his staff, the head coach [url=[url=]finalized his staff[/url] on July 7th, adding Jeremy Hammock (tight ends), Cody Moore (interior defensive line) and Keith Scott (assistant defensive backs) to the staff.

* Former Nicholls great Mark Carrier was [url=]inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 24th[/url] in Natchitoches. Carrier played for the Colonels from 1983-86, finishing as the school's all-time leader in catches (147), receiving yards (2,709) and touchdowns (24). The wide receiver ended up in the National Football League for 12 years, highlighted by a 1989 All-Pro season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

* Nicholls became the latest school in the SLC to join ICS/Sidearm as the school's web site provider when they launched [url=][/url] on July 1st. Southeastern Louisiana is the other SLC member that is a Sidearm client with Central Arkansas currently in development with the company.


* Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Commissioner Karl Benson [url=]conducted an interview with UTSA Tailgaters[/url] and made it clear that the league has had discussions with Texas State and is aware of the situation at UT-San Antonio. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

[QUOTE]Larry Coker has brought some immediate credibility to the program. We will watch that and evaluate Texas State up in San Marcos as a current FCS program. They have gone on the record indicating their interest and desire to move up the ranks. We've had discussions with Texas State, we've also had discussions with Lynn Hickey, and certainly are aware of their (UTSA's) plans. Over the course of the next four to six months, I'm sure both of those schools will be on the WAC's evaluation list.[/QUOTE]

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