Breaking down 2023 conference realignment in men’s, women’s golf
Saturday marked a big day for many college golf programs.
With the calendar officially turning to July, it marked the transition date for the most recent wave of conference realignment. The headline moves, at least as far as men’s and women’s golf are concerned, were BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF all joining the Big 12, which is set to take a massive hit next summer when Oklahoma and Texas bolt for the SEC.
Here is a quick breakdown of the movement:
Adds: BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF
Loses: None (Oklahoma and Texas in July 2024)
Keeps: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia (m)
Skinny: Losing golf powers Oklahoma and Texas next summer will hurt majorly, but all four additions have successful golf programs as BYU won the West Coast men’s title and the Cincinnati men advanced to regionals for the first time in program history last season. The UCF women were a top-25 program for much of last season. Houston also has enjoyed runs of success with both of its programs in the past decade, and obviously the Cougars have rich history on the men’s side under legendary coach Dave Williams, who led Houston to 16 NCAA titles in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Adds: Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice (m), UAB, UTSA
Loses: Cincinnati, Houston, UCF
Keeps: East Carolina, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple (m), Tulane (w), Tulsa (w), Wichita State
Skinny: The Charlotte men and North Texas women stand out among the arrivals, though UAB is also a solid program and FAU is on the rise.
Adds: Jacksonville State, Liberty (m), New Mexico State, Sam Houston
Loses: Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice (m), UAB, UTSA
Keeps: FIU (w), Louisiana Tech (m), Middle Tennessee, UTEP, Western Kentucky
Skinny: Lots of turnover here with six out and four in, but C-USA did well by adding Liberty, which has developed into one of the top men’s mid-majors over the past decade or so (the Flames don’t have women’s golf). Sam Houston is a nice get on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Loses: Jacksonville State, Liberty (m) (Kennesaw State in July 2024)
Keeps: Austin Peay, Bellarmine, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Florida Golf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, North Alabama, North Florida, Queens (N.C.), Stetson
Skinny: Liberty, which one two of the past three ASUN men’s titles, is gone, but North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville help keep the ASUN a solid men’s conference. The impact of the departures for the women isn’t as big with Liberty not boasting a women’s team, but when Kennesaw State leaves next summer, the ASUN will lose one of its perennial women’s contenders.
Loses: New Mexico State, Sam Houston
Keeps: Abilene Christian (m), Cal Baptist, Grand Canyon, Seattle, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Tarleton (w), UT Arlington, UT Rio Grande Valley, Utah Tech, Utah Valley
Skinny: Sam Houston spent just one season in the WAC, though New Mexico State had won four men’s titles since 2013. On the women’s side, NMSU had captured seven of the last eight WAC titles. Sam Houston won the WAC women’s title last season. Grand Canyon, Seattle and Abilene Christian remain as the top programs.
Keeps: College of Charleston, Delaware, Drexel (m), Elon, Hofstra, Monmouth, North Carolina A&T, Towson, UNC Wilmington, William and Mary
Skinny: Under longtime head coach John Crooks, both Campbell programs had tons of success in the Big South and should instantly contend for both Colonial titles.
Keeps: Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Longwood, Presbyterian, Radford, UNC Asheville (w), USC Upstate, Winthrop
Skinny: Campbell had won three of past six Big South men’s titles, but it’s on the women’s side where the Camels’ absence will be felt the most. Campbell had won each of past seven women’s championships.
Keeps: Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount (m), Pacific (m), Pepperdine, St. Mary’s (m), San Diego (m), San Francisco, Santa Clara
Skinny: BYU exits as the reigning West Coast men’s champ, though the Cougars departing likely means more on the women’s side, as the West Coast now has just four members that sponsor women’s golf (conferences need at least six active golf teams to earn an AQ into NCAA regionals).
Adds: Binghamton (m), Le Moyne
Keeps: Delaware State (w), Fairleigh Dickinson, Howard, Long Island, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Merrimack, North Carolina Central, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (Pa.), Stonehill (w), Wagner
Skinny: St. Francis (N.Y.) scrapped its remaining D-I sports after last spring, though the golf programs had been gone a couple years. The additions will give the Northeast 10 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams, and the continued rise of Howard’s programs gives this conference some momentum.
Loses: Hartford, Binghamton
Keeps: Eastern Washington (w), Idaho, Idaho State (w), Montana (w), Montana State (w), Northern Arizona (w), Northern Colorado, Portland State (w), Sacramento State, Weber State
Skinny: With Hartford and Binghamton out, the Big Sky is down to four men’s teams, so adding two teams in the near future will be imperative if the conference wants to keep its AQ. The women’s side still has 10 programs, as Hartford and Binghamton did not compete in the Big Sky last season.