Within the last hour, we’ve had three breaking news reports come out in the D3 world, all of which are related to women’s basketball in some way or another. So I thought I’d put out something on all of this news, in addition to my look at the Sweet 16, which should be out this evening (and probably hit your inbox tomorrow morning).
This first one is combined because, well, the move itself is combined. Both Trinity (TX) and Southwestern are on the move, announcing they will join the Southern Athletic Association by the fall of 2025. This move was reported over a month ago by D3VBWest, a Region 10 volleyball website, but we were unsure when that move would be announced, and how committed both universities were to moving all sports to a league based heavily in the southeast U.S. and headquartered in Atlanta.
Apparently, this move was closer than many of us expected, and with Southwestern moving its football program from ASC affiliation to SAA affiliation next year, neither school’s football program will see any changes made. The other sports will now be playing Rhodes, Berry, Centre in others, replacing short treks to north Texas and Louisiana with regular season road trips involving flights and such.
My first reaction is what the SCAC is losing. D3football.com will probably cover the football aspect of this extensively in a story, and I know I’m a WBB blog. But football often drives conference realignment (especially when it comes to Texas) and with all the question marks surrounding the ASC (with the league dropping to four teams by 2026 if there are no new additions), the SCAC now has only six football schools as well. As a reminder, the min. number of teams for an AQ is 6, so both the SCAC and ASC are on thin ice right now. With Southwestern and Trinity gone, the SCAC is in danger of losing its AQ before it even restarts football if another school in the league leaves or drops its football program for whatever the reason.
How does it relate to WBB? Trinity will be the top team in their league in the SAA, just as they were in the SCAC. But the basement of the SAA in WBB isn’t as deep as the SCAC’s is. Scott Peterson, the D3 WBB numbers guru, quickly ran a few calculations. If you replace all of Trinity’s SCAC games this year with SAA games (sam number of conference games too), the Tigers’ SOS goes from .522 to .579. Southwestern would likely see a similar jump in SOS, though the competition level is also a bit higher in the SAA. There are no juggernaut programs in the SAA currently, but Rhodes, Centre, and others have frequently been competitive within Region 6.
The SCAC, meanwhile, has lost its “top dog” in terms of WBB. Colorado College probably fills that void and is a program on the rise, but the SCAC will become a more-wide open league without Trinity.
Full release from Trinity (Southwestern has not put anything out publicly in regards to this move): https://www.trinity.edu/news/trinity-university-athletics-moving-southern-athletic-association
The third piece of breaking news that came out a little while ago was that Justin Heinzen will be stepping down as Loras’ head coach after 15 seasons at the helm. Dave McHugh of Hoopsville was the first to report that coaching change. Loras was nationally prominent this past season and hosted a first weekend pod a few days ago that included Trine and WashU.
But according to McHugh’s tweet, Heinzen was operating without an assistant for much of the year, and has decided to take a break from coaching. Personally, he has been a huge supporter of my coverage of D3 WBB and I greatly appreciate that. I enjoyed watching Loras play numerous times this season, and wish him the best of luck in the future. Coaching at the D3 level is not easy, and doing it without an assistant makes the job that much more difficult.
Heinzen has Loras in a good spot within the ARC right now, and I expect the Duhawks will remain competitive in the years to come with the foundation he has built.
As always, if you have tips/thoughts/feedback/questions, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a DM on Twitter (@ZayasRiley). Always happy to respond and talk about D3 WBB and D3 sports as a whole. Have a great day. More to come on tomorrow’s games!