Lets say that U. Central Arkansas does drop down and Lamar moves up - Who do you invite in?
I am saying Angelo St. (Texas Tech school system), and Tarleton St. (Texas A&M school system) to start and bring in Texas A&M Commerce for #3 with an unknown fourth.
Well first its not just UCA, its also four of the Louisiana University system schools (NWSU, McNeese, Nicholls St and UNO) that have had budget issues and it was proposed that they might drop sports all together (or at least at the D1 level) and fold into an extension campus of another school like ULL or LA Tech. While this is unlikely it is still concerning to schools like Lamar, SHSU, and SFA who think they belong with the recent defection rather than the recent additions and these schools with financial issues.
As for Southland replacements, I think UTPA is likely option #1 having already been visited and under review but passed over for New Orleans (to make the LA schools happy) and Oral Roberts (a far better option), but if Lamar leaves the Southland will have 10 fb members and 13 bb members so adding another bb school would give them a nice 10/14 split.
But I do qualify that statement by noticing that the Summit just lost UMKC which seems to indicate that the MVC could also be raided for more than just Creighton and could make the Southland look appealing to both Missouri State (fb) and Wichita State (nonfb) who are near the Southern border of those states close to Oral Roberts and Central Arkansas. Those would clearly be the best options for the Southland if given the choice. MSU gets them an easy replacement for Lamar and Wichita State could give them a nationally recognized bball program that's way better than UTPA. If both want to join they could add another D2fb upgrade and have a nice 12/16 split.
Besides existing D1 schools I think the only real options for D2 upgrades are football playing schools Central Oklahoma, Tarleton St, West Texas A&M, Angelo St, and A&M Commerce. UCO would help tie in Oral Roberts, while Angelo/Tarleton would be good to tie in Abilene Christian into the conference plus Tarleton/TAMU-C gives them more exposure around the DFW area and WTAMU brings in a new market out in the panhandle (Texas Tech lite) plus has a good D2 fb program.
Of those I think Central Oklahoma (along with Northeastern St) may be more content now in the MAIAA conference and other D2 OK/Ark fb schools are in their new Great American conference so I think TX upgrades are the only real option.
I'm not sure about whether Angelo St, A&M Commerce, or WTAMU have any intentions of moving up so soon, therefor I think in my opinion that Tarleton St
, who has flirted with the idea as recently as a month ago (see link) is the most likely replacement if the Southland needs another upgrade. After that its probably up to which ever institution wants to and has the means to upgrade and join because other than adding bball schools (or bball schools willing to add fb like HBU) they'd be out of eager ready to upgrade options.
And FYI, the only non-fb school on the SLC's radar right now is probably Dallas Baptist due to their baseball program which is already really good in D1 and obviously their beneficial location in DFW which the Southland is lacking, but honestly I have no idea if they are ready for D1 in other sports.
Fan of the Big 12 Conference, the Mountain West Conference and...