TULSA, Oklahoma – Oral Roberts University is leaving the Summit League Conference to join the Southland Conference beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.
The university made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday saying the move is effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all applicable sports for the 2012-13 academic year.
"Our number one consideration in this and all decisions is the well being of our student-athletes," said ORU President Dr. Mark Rutland. "We look forward to being a competitive member of such an excellent conference right here in our own neighborhood. This change in geography that the Southland Conference provides us will greatly benefit our athletes."
ORU, who has been a part of the Summit League since 1997, now becomes the 10th team in the Southland Conference.
The Golden Eagles will participate in 15 of the Southland's 17 sponsored championships, including men's sports basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. On the women's side, ORU will compete in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball.
ORU becomes the first Oklahoma-based institution in the Southland's 48-year history, and will be the league's first private institution since charter members Trinity University and Abilene Christian University departed the conference in early 1970s.
The move will benefit the school not only with increased competition, but it will also save the school on travel costs and be a better fit proximity wise for the Golden Eagles. The Southland Conference also boasts teams from Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
The Southland Conference has proven that it is a strong and historic mid-major conference, and we are excited about competing in the league," said ORU Athletics Director Mike Carter. "The geographical footprint of the Southland will help us in recruiting, both for athletics and for the university."
The other members of the Southland Conference include:
Central Arkansas, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Lamar, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Northwestern State (La.), McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State.
ORU leaves the Summit League, where the Golden Eagles have competed since the 1997-98 academic year. The Golden Eagles have finished first or second in the Summit League Commissioner's Cup in 12 of the last 14 seasons, and have won 134 regular-season and tournament championships. During that time, ORU has produced 68 All-Americans, and made 75 NCAA Tournament appearances.
"We are grateful to the Summit League for many wonderful years of competition and camaraderie, but made this decision in the best interest of the University and the Student-Athletes we serve," said Carter.