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Hello, Division I: New era begins today

Football Helmet 790x400Abilene Christian University is no stranger to playing teams from much larger institutions, but today marks the start of a new era in which the entire Wildcat intercollegiate athletics program is affiliated with NCAA Division I.
As the new Spring-Summer 2013 issue of ACU Today magazine explains, preparations for a return to the Southland Conference are in full swing. Our coverage also introduces you in this issue to our new rivals with some interesting profiles of each. A few tidbits to test your knowledge:

  • Seven Southland university campuses are less than 50 feet above sea level. Which one is the lowest? (Hint: It’s not in Louisiana.) The highest? (We call it the Hill for good reason.)
  • Which Southland university counts two well-known televangelists among its graduates? (Hint: It’s named after another televangelist.)
  • Which Southland universities are named after Texas’ founding fathers and greatest heroes? (Hint: They used to be ACU rivals in the Lone Star Conference.)
  • Which Southland universities are the alma maters of morning news-and-talk-show hosts for Good Morning America, the Today show and Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee? (Hint: The same person helped host two of them.)
  • Which Southland university is the most distant from Abilene (Hint: It’s the second largest in Louisiana.)
  • Which two Southland universities play each other for the tallest trophy – 7 feet, 6 inches – in college football? (Hint: They are located in sister cities in Texas and Louisiana.)
  • Which Southland university president previously had the same job at Baylor University? (Hint: He was born in Abilene.)
The Southland Conference welcomed four new members to Division I this morning on its website
The Southland Conference ( welcomed four new members to Division I this morning on its website.
Schedules for each of ACU’s 16 teams are being built this summer and they feature some eye-openers beyond the new rivals the Wildcats will face in the Southland. This spring, the women’s volleyball team scrimmaged Texas-Arlington, Baylor, SMU, Texas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma to gain some experience with Division I competition.
The first regular-season home athletics contest with a Division I opponent is a volleyball match in Moody Coliseum with Texas Tech University of the Big 12 Conference on Sept. 10. Other highlights of 2013-14 season schedules, with more to be announced:

  • Volleyball matches vs. Texas Tech (Sept. 3 in Lubbock); and New Mexico, Towson and Northern Arizona (Sept. 13-14 in Albuquerque); 
  • Football games vs. Illinois State (Sept. 21 in Normal), New Mexico State (Oct. 26 in Las Cruces) and Prairie View A&M (Nov. 16 in Prairie View);
  • Men’s basketball road games vs. TCU (Nov. 19 in Fort Worth), and with members of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Atlantic 10 Conference;
  • Women’s basketball games in tournaments at Texas-Arlington, Tulsa and North Texas; and
  • Baseball games vs. Oklahoma (March 4-5 in Norman), Texas Tech (March 11 and April 8 in Lubbock), Arizona State (May 20 in Tempe) and Arizona (in Tucson).

As our cover stories reveal, uniforms are being designed using the new Wildcat and the floor of Moody Coliseum is getting a makeover with the new graphics this summer. Watch this blog for news about pre-game tailgate parties this fall in Abilene, Dallas/Fort Worth (Frisco), San Antonio and Houston, and follow football games on 50,000-watt Christian radio station KBXD 1480 AM in the Metroplex, which reaches most of North Texas and into Oklahoma.
All in all, it’s an exciting time for Wildcat fans. Read about it in the new issue of ACU Today here, and share it with your friends!