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Louisiana Tech Joins Conference USA in Historic Move


 

 

May 4, 2012

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RUSTON, La. - After months of ongoing speculation and years of positioning itself for the opportunity, Louisiana Tech University accepted an invitation to join Conference USA during a press conference held Friday on Karl Malone Court in the Thomas Assembly Center.


Tech, which has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference since July 1, 2001, will officially become a member of Conference USA in an all-sports move starting July 1, 2013.

University President Dan Reneau said Friday's announcement is the culmination to years of hard work and dedication by university administrators, coaches and student-athletes.

"This is the dawn of a new era for Louisiana Tech University and a goal we have worked very hard over the past several years to achieve," Reneau said. "I want to publically acknowledge the efforts of Bruce Van De Velde and his team as well as dedicated alums such as Terry Bradshaw and the Davison family, who were instrumental in helping tell our story and promote our vision for the future of Louisiana Tech Athletics.

"Above all, I want to thank the Tech Nation for their loyal support and commitment to the athletics program. You are the spirit of Louisiana Tech and an inspiration to our coaches and student-athletes."

Tech is one of five institutions that accepted a bid to C-USA along with North Texas, UTSA, Florida International and UNC-Charlotte. The five will join existing members Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB, Marshall, East Carolina, Rice, Tulsa and UTEP to form the 13-team league. According to the league office, additional expansion is possible and divisions will be set in the near future.

"The opportunity to join a conference with a national reputation and a strong regional presence is another step in solidifying our place as north Louisiana's flagship University," said Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde. "It is a great honor to be invited to Conference USA, a league whose members reflect the same strong academic reputation and rich intercollegiate athletic traditions as Louisiana Tech."

Conference USA welcomes Louisiana Tech's 16 NCAA Division I sanctioned sports (9 women's, 7 men's) that have combined to capture 29 team titles during its 11-year membership in the WAC.

"Located right in the heart of our Conference, we are so pleased to be able to start this association," said C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, who was present at Friday's announcement. "The more you learn about Louisiana Tech, the more you appreciate the fine programs they have in place. They have a great tradition, and a wonderful vision for excellence in the future. They will make a great addition to the Conference."

Most recently, the Bulldog football team won the 2011 WAC title and competed in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl where it fell 31-24 to 18th ranked TCU. Head coach Sonny Dykes returns the nucleus of that team, including 2011 Ray Guy Award winner Ryan Allen.

The Lady Techster basketball program, which boasts a rich tradition which includes three national titles, 13 Final Fours and 27 NCAA Tournament appearances, captured eight regular season titles and five conference tournament titles as a member of the WAC. The Lady Techsters are currently coached by former All-American, two-time Olympian and WNBA all-star Teresa Weatherspoon.

Tech's women's track and field teams have also been dominate in the league, winning six of the last eight indoor titles and seven straight outdoor titles while boasting numerous All-Americans.

Under the direction of first year head coach Michael White, the Bulldog basketball program - which boasted the eighth youngest team in the country - knocked off perennial NCAA participant Utah State and WAC regular season champion Nevada on its way to the WAC Tournament championship game this season.

The University has produced some of the top names in sports, including Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Karl Malone, Teresa Weatherspoon, Willie Roaf, Fred Dean and Leon Barmore. Some of Tech's top current professional athletes include Tramon Williams (Green Bay Packers), Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz) and Josh Scobee (Jacksonville Jaguars).

Louisiana Tech's student-athletes also continue to shine in the classroom, recording a 72 percent four-year graduation success rate (NCAA Federal Graduation Rate Report, 2011), which ranks as the second highest in the state among Division I football-playing public institutions. The Bulldog football team recorded a 75 percent graduation success rate, earning the 2011 Academic Achievement Award presented by the American Football Coaches Association.

Tech saw eight of its 16 NCAA sanctioned programs record their highest multi-year Academic Success Rate (APR) this past year. All 16 of Louisiana Tech's NCAA sanctioned programs will be penalty free in 2011-12.

Other recent athletic department achievements include:
• Louisiana Tech ranked in the Top 10 in the Excellence in Management Cup (Texas A&M Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics) for three straight years (joining only Kent State, Utah State and Boise State). The award recognizes which athletic departments win the most championships in accordance to financial expenditures.
• Louisiana Tech recorded its best finish ever in the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner's Cup this past year behind the strength of championship performances by women's basketball, women's indoor track and field and women's outdoor track and field.
• Louisiana Tech won the NCAA Pack the House Challenge for the Western Athletic Conference for the fifth consecutive year. LA Tech is the only program in the country that has won the award for its respective conference all five years.
• Louisiana Tech won the 2010 Turnkey PRSIM Award (University of Massachusetts Amherst Sports Management Program).The PRISM Award (Professionalism, Results and Innovation in Sport Management) recognizes colleges for managerial excellence across four areas: marketing/branding; fan development; community relations; and customer/client service.
• Louisiana Tech was one of only five schools (joining Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State and Stanford) that had at least one student-athlete selected in each of the NFL, NBA, MLB, WNBA and National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Drafts in 2010.
• Louisiana Tech's soccer team was instrumental in the University earning a spot on the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. It was also recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for its leadership among institutions of higher education in Louisiana in supporting volunteerism, service-learning, and civic engagement.

Academically, Louisiana Tech is north Louisiana's only Carnegie Foundation Research University/High Research Activity (RU/H) and SREB Doctoral Four-Year 2 Research University. It's ranked as a Tier One National University in US News & World Report's 2012 Best College Report.

The University also boasts an average freshman ACT score of 23.8, which is the highest among University of Louisiana System (ULS) institutions. Tech also has the highest student body graduation rate in the ULS.

For more information on Louisiana Tech and its athletic programs, log onto www.latechsports.com.


Quick Facts
Name: Louisiana Tech University (LA Tech is permissible on second reference)
Location: Ruston, La.
Founded: 1894
Enrollment: 11,581
Mascot: Bulldogs (men's sports), Lady Techsters (women's sports)
Colors: Red, blue
President: Dr. Dan Reneau
Athletics Director: Bruce Van De Velde
SWA: Mary Kay Hungate
Faculty Rep: Dr. James Liberatos

Athletics Programs (Men's)

Baseball
Head Coach Wade Simoneaux (10th year)
JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park (1971)

Basketball
Head Coach Mike White (1st year)
Thomas Assembly Center (1982)

Football
Head Coach Sonny Dykes (2nd year)
Joe Aillet Stadium (1968)

Golf
Head Coach Jeff Parks (3rd year)
Squire Creek Country Club (2002)

Track and Field (Indoor, Outdoor, Cross Country)
Head Coach Gary Stanley (24th year)
Jim Mize Track and Field Complex (1972)

Athletics Programs (Women's)

Basketball
Head Coach Teresa Weatherspoon (4th year)
Thomas Assembly Center (1982)

Bowling
Shawn Jackson (8th year)
Lambright Bowling Alley (2008)

Softball
Head Coach Sarah Dawson (10th year)
Lady Techster Softball Complex (1982)

Soccer
Head Coach Kevin Sherry (5th year)
Lady Techster Soccer Complex (2009)

Tennis
Quinton Yray (6th year)
Lady Techster Tennis Complex (2008)

Track and Field (Indoor, Outdoor, Cross Country)
Gary Stanley (24th year)
Jim Mize Track and Field Complex (1972)

Volleyball
Head Coach Adriano de Souza (beginning 1st year)
Thomas Assembly Center (1982)

Famous Athletic Alums: Terry Bradshaw, Willie Roaf, Fred Dean, Karl Malone, Paul Millsap, PJ Brown, Teresa Weatherspoon, Cheryl Ford, David Segui