RICHARDSON, Texas — Oklahoma Christian began a new era in athletics on Monday when the university officially became a member of the Lone Star Conference, helping make the LSC the largest league in NCAA Division II.
The Lone Star is the fourth conference of which OC has been a member in its athletic history. OC was a member of the now-defunct Texoma Conference from 1975 until 1978, when it joined the NAIA's Sooner Athletic Conference from the league's creation in 1978.
In 2012, OC left the SAC and NAIA and joined the Division II Heartland Conference. The Heartland officially ceased operations on Sunday as seven of the league's nine members prepared to move into the LSC and increase the LSC's membership to 19 schools.
"This is a historic day for the Lone Star Conference as we welcome eight new members and become the largest and most dynamic conference in NCAA Division II," LSC Commissioner Jay Poerner said. "Individually and collectively, our 19 member institutions embody the very best in Division II with a shared commitment to community, academics and athletics excellence."
In August 2017, the LSC Council of Presidents voted unanimously to offer full membership starting in 2019-20 to OC, Arkansas-Fort Smith, Dallas Baptist (Texas), Lubbock Christian (Texas), Rogers State, St. Edward's (Texas), St. Mary's (Texas) and Texas A&M International. Rogers State later decided instead to join fellow Heartland member Newman (Kan.) in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The LSC also is adding Texas-Tyler, a university that is making the transition from NCAA Division III into Division II.
The LSC, founded on April 25, 1931, started as a five-member conference of Texas-based schools and with the latest expansion will have 14 members in Texas, two in Oklahoma, two in New Mexico and one in Arkansas.
"Athletics have always been important in the OC experience," OC President John deSteiguer said. "We are looking forward to hard work, memorable games and success in the highly competitive Lone Star Conference."
Fifteen of OC's 17 varsity athletic programs will compete in the Lone Star, with the university's swimming programs to continue to compete as an affiliate member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. OC's indoor and outdoor track and field programs, which have competed in the Great American Conference the past four years, will make the move to the Lone Star. OC's women's volleyball team will begin competing in the LSC with the 2020 season.
The LSC conducts conference championships in 18 sports (nine for men and nine for women). Men's championships include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, baseball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis. Women's titles are determined in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis and golf.
The new Lone Star members will join current members Angelo State of San Angelo, Texas; Cameron of Lawton; Eastern New Mexico of Portales, N.M.; Midwestern State of Wichita Falls, Texas; Tarleton State of Stephenville, Texas; Texas A&M-Commerce of Commerce, Texas; Texas A&M-Kingsville of Kingsville, Texas; Texas Woman's of Denton, Texas; Texas-Permian Basin of Odessa, Texas; West Texas A&M of Canyon, Texas; and Western New Mexico of Silver City, N.M.
"It is an honor for Oklahoma Christian to join the Lone Star Conference," OC Athletic Director David Lynn said. "We believe the Lone Star is a premiere NCAA Division II league. We look forward to competing against all of the great schools around the league and visiting all the many college towns that Lone Star schools are located in. This is a great time for Oklahoma Christian athletics."