The Bulldogs will compete in all four championships in 2023
FRISCO, Texas — The Southland Conference has added Bryant University as an affiliate member for men’s and women’s golf and tennis, for several years beginning with the 2022-23 season, the league announced Monday.
“Members of Southland are on a mission to elevate our brand nationally by aligning themselves with institutions and leaders who prioritize academic and athletic excellence,” said Southland Commissioner , Chris Grant. “A vibrant Division I institution and extraordinary leader, like Bryant University and Bill Smith, committed to joining our members as affiliate members in four sports, complements the strength and unwavering support of our conference to ensure access at the NCAA Championships to all student-athletes. We welcome student-athletes, coaches and staff from men’s and women’s golf at Bryant University and men’s and women’s tennis at the Southland Conference.
The men’s and women’s tennis teams, as well as the men’s golf team, relocate to Southland after great success in the Northeast Conference. Bryant’s women’s golf team will play its first season in 2022-23.
“Bryant University is honored to be an affiliate member of the Southland Conference and thrilled to have four of our teams have the opportunity to compete for a championship as members of this prestigious conference,” said Bryant’s athletic director. , Bill Smith. “I want to thank Commissioner Grant for providing a new home for our men’s and women’s Bulldog golf teams, as well as our men’s and women’s tennis teams.”
Bryant’s men’s tennis has enjoyed incredible success at the Division I level, having won 170 matches since 2008 under Grade 17 head coach Ron Gendron. During that span, the Bulldogs went 47-4 against Northeastern Conference opponents and won six consecutive NEC championships (2014-2019), qualifying for six NCAA Tournaments.
It’s been a great experience to have had the success we’ve had in the NEC,” added Bryant’s men’s tennis coach Ron Gendron. “That being said, we look forward to a new challenge with a new place to live in Southland.”
Bryant’s women’s tennis is coming off a historic championship of its own last season, winning its second NEC championship before facing No. 2 nationally seeded Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs also won the NEC in 2015 and have qualified for the championship game in five of their last seven years in the NEC.
Bryant’s women’s tennis coach, Barbara Cilli, said, “We are thrilled with what a transition like this means for Bryant as a whole and for his tennis programs. Being in the Southland conference will give us additional visibility and a new level of tennis. We are ready to take up the challenge. Go bulldogs!”
Men’s golf is one of Bryant’s most storied programs, having won 22 conference championships and qualified for 33 NCAA tournaments at the DII and DI levels. The Bulldogs won NEC championships in 2014 and 2017 and have finished in the top two at league championships in five of the past eight years.
“We are very excited to join the Southland Conference,” said Bryant Men’s Golf Coach Charlie Blanchard, “This high quality competition will ignite the best in our student-athletes. We look forward to this new challenge. It’s a great day to be a Bulldog!
Women’s Golf Coach Nick Drago added, “Joining the Southland Conference is a tremendous opportunity for our budding women’s golf program. The Southland Conference is rich in golfing history and will be a great home for our women to compete and hone their skills in a competitive environment. This opportunity will allow us to develop on a national scale. I’m excited for the challenge ahead.
The 2022-23 Southland Conference men’s tennis slate will include Bryant, New Orleans, NJIT, Nicholls and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, while Bryant’s women will face McNeese, New Orleans, NJIT, La New Orleans, Nicholls, Northwest State, Southeast, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The 2023 Southland Tennis Tournaments will be held April 21-23 at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the winner will receive the league’s automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.
The 2023 Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships will be held April 17-19 and April 24-26 respectively at venues to be announced later this month.