On Nov. 11, 2010, UTSA accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) effective July 1, 2012. At the time, July 1, 2012, was praised as a historic day for the university and indeed it should be.
On that day the school will heed the words of Horace Greely when he said “Go West, young man,” and trade exotic locales like Nacogdoches, Texas and Thibodaux, LA for San Jose, CA and Moscow, Idaho.
The Roadrunners listened and when the opportunity came to say goodbye to the Southland Conference, UTSA took advantage.
The impending move made the 2011-12 academic year the final time the Roadrunners would compete in the Southland, their home for the last 20 years.
When the year began, UTSA had five teams set to defend their conference crowns from the 2010-11 year. Two of those champions, soccer and volleyball, got the chance to defend theirs first. Soccer fell in the Southland tournament semifinals by a score of two goals to none against Stephen F. Austin.
Volleyball saw one of its best seasons ever come to an end against archrival and fellow-Southland exitee Texas State in the conference finals. The Roadrunners swept 12 straight conference matches in the regular season, but near the end they seemed to lose momentum before making a run to the finals.
The fall season was also marked by the first season of UTSA football. The long anticipated program finished 4-6 with a lot of the games coming down to the final play.
After the winter break, the basketball teams took center stage in the hearts and minds of the student body. The men were trying to make it back to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament while the women were trying to win with six newcomers.
Both teams took the school on a wild ride. The men returned to the conference tournament to defend their title, but the women’s team saw their run of 12-straight trips to the conference tournament end. They suffered through a rough February where the wins were just out of reach.
The men saw an 11-point lead evaporate in an overtime loss to McNeese State in the first round of the conference tournament, ending any hope of a return to the big dance.
While the basketball teams fought for tournament berths, the men’s indoor track team outran the competition to capture their seventh-consecutive Southland championship.
The Roadrunners experienced another conference championship repeat when the women’s golf team held onto their trophy and earned another trip to the NCAA tournament to be contested next month.
Around the time that women’s golf tries to advance in the NCAA tournament, both baseball and softball will be trying to earn their way to their respective NCAA tournament through winning the Southland crown in their sports. Softball will have the chance to do it at home as UTSA is the host institution. Baseball will have a tougher road as they will have to knock off a stiff group of competition in San Marcos.
Whatever happens in the Roadrunners’ remaining time in the Southland, there is the knowledge that on July 1, 2012, the teams will be facing new challenges in the WAC.
Among those challenges will be whether the conference collapses around its new members.
As the Roadrunners fought for championships in the Southland, the WAC did its best to stay afloat as news broke of a potential football merger between the Mountain West conference and Conference USA. Speculation ran wild as UTSA’s name came up as a potential invitee to the new mega-conference. The Sun Belt Conference might also be an option for the Roadrunners though at this time there is little credibility to rumors of another conference move so soon before the official joining of the WAC by UTSA.
That is something to be decided off the fields and courts of play. The only thing UTSA can do is make sure to take care of itself.