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Centenary, New Orleans leave Div. I behind

7/6/2011

Conference realignment has energized a number of programs this offseason, and while they bask in the glow of new beginnings and resources, it's easy to overlook that there are also programs that are departing from Division I.

Centenary endured a 1-29 season in its final year in the Summit League while transitioning into Division III. Coach Adam Walsh was good enough to laugh a little about the situation when asked if his depleted roster could beat the UConn women. The team's losing streak lasted 33 games before finally winning a game in late February.

When the Gents officially joined the American Southwest Conference on Friday, there was only a news release announcement and depressing signs on the court, according to the Shreveport Times.

The Gold Dome floor is currently being repainted and all evidence that Centenary was a member of The Summit League is being sanded away or taken down and tucked away in a closet.

"By the time we begin competing in the fall we should be fully transitioned to the ASC," [athletic director William] Broussard said. "Something you don't always consider in a move like this is that all of the clothes that our coaches and student-athletes wear must be changed."

New Orleans is another program where budget cuts have taken a toll, forcing the program to leave the Sun Belt and move to Division II. The Privateers won 16 games competing as a Division I independent against lower-level competition. They were supposed to transition to Division III before it was announced they would go to Division II in the Gulf South Conference.

Coach Joe Pasternack left for an assistant coaching position with Arizona after the season, and the program has moved on as well by hiring former Northwestern State assistant coach Mike Slessinger last week.

"Becoming the head coach at UNO is a culmination of a lifelong dream to be a NCAA head coach," Slessinger said in a statement. "UNO is a university storied in tradition and history, and I welcome the challenge of bringing success back to the basketball program."

It won't come at the Division I level, but New Orleans will get their shot at a Division I team in its home opener at Rice. After that, it's a new program with new expectations.

Like they have in the past, Centenary and New Orleans will simply have to make due.