Another Division I program in San Antonio?

That’s what the University of the Incarnate Word wants to be.

UIW President Lou Agnese said Friday the Cardinals are considering joining the Southland Conference after less than two years in the Division II Lone Star Conference.

UIW’s interest in Division I is a calculated move by Agnese to “extend the brand” of his school, which has mushroomed in enrollment during his tenure as leader.

With a current fall enrollment of 8,445 students, UIW is the fourth-largest private school in Texas behind Baylor, SMU and TCU. When Agnese arrived at UIW in 1985, the school had an enrollment of 1,298.

“We’re building the ‘Cardinal Brand,’” Agnese said. “We’ve been on a 25-year trajectory to build it. And the next step for us, if the students agree, is to make the move to Division I.”

And when I arrived at Trinity back in 1984, they were known as Incarnate Word College. If we had a rival in athletics, they were it. Well, for basketball, anyway – I don’t think they had football back then, or if they did we didn’t play them. I have to say, it blows my mind a little to see them say they want to step up to Division I. I had no idea they’d grown that much. How many of you had even heard of them?

UIW student athletes greeted Agnese’s plans with great interest when he met with them earlier this year, he said.

UIW students will vote on Agnese’s plan in November. If approved, student activity fees would increase from their current $350 per year.

The school then would petition the Southland Conference to join in January with hopes of becoming a member by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Agnese said the school also has considered applying to Conference USA. But the likely target is the Southland Conference, which has lost UTSA, Texas State and UT-Arlington to the Western Athletic Conference since 2010.

The SLC commissioner was non-committal, but it sounds like if UIW commits to going that route, they’ll wind up there eventually. Money is the big issue, as they would have to go to 63 football scholarships from the 28 they currently give as a Division II school. Facilities, for both football and basketball, are also an issue, as their current average attendance for football is less than half what the typical SLC school draws. They’re mulling various capital improvements, and also some football games at Alamo Stadium and basketball at Alamo Convocation Center, both of which are SAISD facilities. Like I said, it’s going to cost a bunch of money to move on up, but they seem determined to spend it. I wish them the best of luck.

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3 Responses to Another Division I program in San Antonio?

  1. PDiddie says:

    I have known about them for a long while; they just got thumped by my alma mater last weekend — who’s only in their second season of a reactivated football program themselves.

    Lamar and UIW share the nickname ‘Cardinals’ (but it’s a more appropriate mascot for a Catholic school, of course).

  2. Pingback: Division I wannabes are popping up all over – Off the Kuff

  3. Pingback: HBU and UIW make the leap to Division I – Off the Kuff

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