SWAC football, basketball championships moving to Houston

Jackson State running back Rakeem Sims (33) is hugged by teammate tight end Dylan Douglas (48) following a 37-yard touchdown run in the first half of the SWAC championship game against Arkansas Pine Bluff at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. At right is Jackson State fullback Stedmon Capler (47). (AP Photo/Dave Martin) Show caption
Jackson State running back Rakeem Sims (33) is hugged by teammate tight end Dylan Douglas (48) following a 37-yard touchdown run in the first half of the SWAC championship game against Arkansas Pine Bluff at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. At right is Jackson State fullback Stedmon Capler (47). (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Fans of Southwestern Athletic Conference football and basketball teams can save a place for Tex-Mex cuisine. They may also want to brush off their cowboy boots.

The SWAC has relocated its championship game in football and its conference tournament in basketball to Houston, the league office announced Thursday.

Both events will be held at big league venues. The football game will be at Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, from 2013-15. The basketball tournament will be at the Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets, from 2014-16.

Member institutions were informed of the change this week at the SWAC meetings in New Orleans.

“I like it for a number of reasons,” Southern Athletic Director William Broussard said.

Broussard said he likes Houston as a host city because it is close enough for many schools to reach by bus, and also because its airports make it an easy city for other schools to reach. Also, he said casual fans of participating schools will have entertainment options within walking distance of the venues.

“Fans from the suburbs can look forward to coming to those venues as well as be excited about enjoying some fun, entertaining things to do,” Broussard said.

The championship game in football had been played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., since its inception in 1999. The basketball tournament was played in Garland, Texas, the past three years.

Broussard said Houston houses the largest contingent of Southern alumni outside of Louisiana.

“It’s a great location in terms of having a large alumni base there, and it’s close enough (to Baton Rouge) that our fans can be excited about making those trips,” he said.

Broussard said the SWAC had no news on the future of its baseball tournament. It moved from Southern’s Lee-Hines Field to LaGrave Field in Fort Worth, Texas, this season.

“I get a strong sense we may not be going back to Fort Worth,” Broussard said, “but there’s nothing definite.”