NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana announced Tuesday that it will join the NAIA’s Red River Athletic Conference as a full-time member, effective July 1, 2021.
XULA was unanimously approved in August by RRAC member institutions to become the league’s 13th member.
The move to the Red River will end XULA’s 40-year affiliation with the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, of which it was a charter member in 1981. XULA teams will compete for GCAC championships in at least seven sports in 2020-21.
The RRAC was founded in 1998 and consists of teams in Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
“We are excited to add Xavier University of Louisiana to our conference,” said RRAC Commissioner Tony Stigliano. “Xavier has a great history in the NAIA and has been a frequent opponent for our current members. Our conference will be strengthened by the quality of Xavier’s athletics program, and the university is an excellent fit with the RRAC as an institution and geographically.”
“The move to the Red River Athletic Conference allows Xavier to evaluate our position in intercollegiate athletics. It provides us the opportunity to expand our reach in key geographic areas for future students interested in continuing their athletic pursuits,” XULA President Reynold Verret said. “This move expands our connectivity with alumni who are concentrated in the areas of athletic competition. The majority of our teams will now have the opportunity to compete for conference championships and automatic bids to NAIA national tournaments.”
“We are excited to join the Red River Athletic Conference,” Jason Horn, XULA’s assistant vice president for student affairs/director of athletics and recreation said. “Many of our current student-athletes and other Xavier students and alumni hail from Shreveport, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and other cities within the conference’s footprint in Texas and Louisiana.”
Current RRAC membership resembles the GCAC original lineup that XULA helped found — a mixture of HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and non-HBCUs. Current RRAC members are:
• University of Houston-Victoria in Victoria, Texas
• Huston–Tillotson University in Austin, Texas (HBCU)
• Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas (HBCU)
• Louisiana State University of Alexandria in Alexandria, La.
• Louisiana State University Shreveport in Shreveport, La.
• Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas
• Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas (HBCU)
• University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M.
• Texas College in Tyler, Texas (HBCU)
• Texas A&M University–San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas
• Texas A&M University–Texarkana in Texarkana, Texas
• Wiley College in Marshall, Texas (HBCU)
HBCUs Huston-Tillotson, Jarvis Christian, Paul Quinn, Texas College and Wiley are charter RRAC members, as is Southwest. XULA will resume conference competition with LSUS, a GCAC member from 2003-10.
“We are excited that Xavier’s move to the Red River Athletic Conference will give our Texas and north Louisiana alumni increased opportunities to regularly watch our teams compete in person,” said Kimberly Reese, XULA assistant vice president for alumni relations and annual giving. “The Xavier Alumni Relations Office looks forward to planning more events in those areas to connect to our graduates and prospective students.”
This will be XULA’s third full-time conference affiliation. It competed in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) from 1935-60.
“Xavier has enjoyed many successful years in the GCAC,” Verret said, “and we wish the GCAC well in its future. However, we believe this move to the Red River Athletic Conference best fits Xavier’s competitive needs at this time.”