FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference and Incarnate Word announced that the school will become a member of the league effective July 1, 2013. The membership will coincide with the San Antonio-based school's four-year transition to Division I status.

Currently a member of the Division II Lone Star Conference, Incarnate Word will begin the four-year shift to Division I with the Southland Conference’s assistance and oversight. It is expected that UIW will begin counting as an Division I team for scheduling purposes in 2014-15, and will be fully eligible for NCAA championship events in 2017-18.

Incarnate Word will participate in all of the Southland’s 17 sponsored championships, including men’s sports baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. On the women’s side, UIW will compete in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball. In 2013-14, the athletic program will receive Southland schedules in all sports, except football, as the UIW program will begin league play in the fall of 2014.

The Cardinals have held membership in Division II since 1999, and the Lone Star Conference since 2009, and will have an athletics budget of $9.5 million in 2012-13. In addition to the 17 Southland Conference sports, the Cardinals also sponsor men’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s synchronized swimming.

“To say the university is excited would be an understatement,” Incarnate Word athletic director Mark Papich said. “After years of study regarding facilities, financial resources and staffing, this announcement is the culmination of numerous people’s time and energy that put UIW in the right position for review. We know we will have several short term and long term projects to make the move to the Southland Conference a successful venture.”

Since 2007-08, more than 20 Cardinals’ squads have claimed league titles and advanced to national postseason play. UIW’s 2011-12 athletic year was highlighted by a conference tournament championship in softball, a tournament title game appearance in women’s basketball, a second-place league finish in men’s tennis and a men’s soccer NCAA tournament berth.