The Texas Wesleyan athletic program has announced a big move in which Wesleyan will now be a part of the Sooner Athletic Conference starting the 2013-2014 academic year.
Steve Trachier, head athletic director, said the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved the move on Sept. 4.
Wesleyan has been a part of the Red River Athletic Conferece for 10 years, but the SAC will bring different benefits for student -athletes.
“There will be shorter distances for competition, which will mean less time lost for student-athletes and fewer overnight trips,” Trachier said. “Also, we will have a visible presence in Oklahoma’s largest city.”
Trachier said the greater presence in Oklahoma City will bring recruiting benefits.
“We are hoping to draw student athletes from that area,” Trachier said.
Kevin Millikan, assistant athletic director and head women’s golf coach, said the geographic location of the Sooner Conference schools is a big reason why Wesleyan moved conferences.
“Geographically, Sooner Conference teams are closer than most of those in the Red River,” Millikan said. “Student athletes had to miss a lot of class.”
Wesleyan is not the only school moving from the RRAC to the SAC. Northwood University and Southwestern Assemblies of God University are also making the transition to the more competitive conference.
According to www.soonerathletic.org, the SAC is one of the top conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and was founded in 1978. The SAC has 10 teams in the conference, and Wesleyan athletics welcomed the invitation to join.
Millikan said the Sooner Conference is a great league with great teams.
“Almost every Sooner Conference participant has every sport Wesleyan has and is similar to Wesleyan’s competitiveness,” Millikan said.
The SAC is considered by many to be a very competitive conference. The Sooner Conference men’s basketball teams have competed in 15 national championships, and women’s basketball teams have won 10 national titles. Baseball has won a national title in the SAC as well. Men’s golf has won eight national titles along with five from the women’s golf teams.
Trachier said Wesleyan will be very competitive in most sports.
“For some of our new sports, like women’s golf, there will be a gap to close,” Trachier said. “However, I believe that the best way to improve quickly is to compete against the best teams possible.”
Trachier said the SAC teams will have to bring their “A” game every night.
“The conference is very balanced and very competitive,” Trachier said.
Chelsea Boles, junior catcher for the softball team and exercise science major, said she thinks this move will be a good challenge of talent.
“Since I was a freshmen we have been playing teams from the Sooner Conference in pre-season, and they are all competitive and talented,” Boles said.
Boles will be a part of the SAC move next year, and she said she is ready.
“I think we will respond well to the competition,” Boles said. “It might be hard at first not being the dominating team of the conference, but it’ll make the programs better with the better competition.”