In December 1921, UNT joined the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the university's first affiliation with an athletic conference.
The association included: Southern Methodist University, Baylor University, Grubbs Vocational School, Trinity University, Austin College, Sam Houston State, West Texas State and Southwest Texas State. By 1930, the association expanded to include teachers' colleges at Nacogdoches, Commerce Alpine, Texas A&I College, Daniel Baker College, Abilene Christian College and McMurry College.
Lone Star Conference
In 1931, UNT joined four other schools to form a new association, the Lone Star Conference. The LSC included: Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, East Texas, Southwest Texas and UNT (then known as North Texas State Teachers College). UNT remained affiliated with the LSC for 14 years before moving on to other athletic affiliations.
Gulf Coast Conference
In 1948-49 after World War II, UNT, the University of Houston, and Trinity University and Hardin University (later Midwestern University) joined together in the formation of the Gulf Coast Conference. This conference survived for eight years until UNT withdrew.
Missouri Valley Conference
In 1956, UNT entered the Missouri Valley Conference and played in the MVC for the next 19 years until 1975, when the university withdrew. The Regents voted in 1982 for UNT to join the Southland Conference as its eighth member. Later, four other Texas state schools were added to this conference: Southwest Texas, Sam Houston, UT-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin.
For 13 years, UNT worked to build a successful program in the Southland Conference. The football team under Coach Corky Nelson won the Southland championship and went into the NCAA I-AA playoffs in 1983, 1987 and 1988. In 1994, Coach Matt Simon's team won the conference championship. All four of these teams lost in the first round of NCAA playoffs.
Big West Conference
Then in 1996, UNT left the Southland Conference to become a member of the Big West. Members of the Big West included: Boise (Idaho) State University; California Polytechnic; San Luis Obispo; California State, Fullerton; California State, Long Beach; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Idaho; University of Nevada, Reno; Utah State; University of the Pacific; New Mexico State University and UNT. Arkansas State University was voted as a football-only member in 1999. In 1995, the Eagles were approved by the NCAA for a I-A status (now Bowl Subdivision and NCAA Championship Subdivision.) Also in 1999, the University of Nevada at Reno withdrew from the Big West Conference. It was clear at that time that UNT could benefit by a conference affiliation that included schools closer to Denton.
Sun Belt Conference
In 2001, UNT joined New Mexico State and Middle Tennessee to enter the Sun Belt Conference. The University of Louisiana-Monroe signed on also as a football-only member.
UNT won the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2001 and played in the inaugural New Orleans Bowl and the 2002 bowl, which we won. The Mean Green also played in the New Orleans Bowl again in 2003 and 2004.
To find out more about Mean Green's 2008 season and how to buy tickets, visit www.meangreensports.com/.
Mellina Stucky can be reached at email@example.com.