Harding and Arkansas Tech join Great American Conference - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Harding and Arkansas Tech join Great American Conference

From Harding University and Arkansas Tech University

Harding University will soon be a member of the Great American Conference.

Harding, which has been a member of the Gulf South Conference since 2000, joins a nine-member league that includes six NCAA Division II universities from Arkansas and three from Oklahoma.

The formal announcement of the new conference name was made today by the chief executive officers of the nine member institutions –Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, East Central University in Ada, Okla., Harding University in Searcy, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

According to a joint statement from the member institutions' presidents and chancellors, the name was chosen to "reflect the diversity of the league's geographic regions, from the Mississippi Delta of southeast Arkansas to the plains of western Oklahoma."

The six Arkansas schools are currently members of the Gulf South Conference while the Oklahoma schools hold membership in the Lone Star Conference.

Much of the impetus for the new league, according to the CEO's, was to bring together institutions with similar athletic and academic profiles as well as those in geographic proximity to lessen travel costs and missed class time for student-athletes. The new conference also recalls part of the athletic history of both states when the three Oklahoma schools were part of the now-defunct Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference and the six Arkansas schools were part of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. Teams from the OIC and AIC were frequent opponents in all sports.

"This is the start of an exciting and promising era of athletic competition for our member institutions," said Dr. David Burks, president of Harding University and conference president. "It's a win for the institutions, for our athletic programs, our students, and our alumni."

Randy Butler, president of Southwestern Oklahoma State and vice president of the conference, called the new league "a better fit for our institutions. The Great American Conference brings together like-minded universities with similar resources and creates an even playing field that can only enhance intercollegiate athletics at our member institutions."

Will Prewitt, former associate commissioner of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, was recently named commissioner of the new conference. "This is an incredible opportunity to build a conference from the ground up," said Prewitt. "When I look at the member institutions and their respective athletic histories, I think we have a chance to build something special."

The new league plans to begin competition in the fall of 2011 after approval from the NCAA.

 

Arkansas Tech University will soon become a charter member of the Great American Conference.

Tech, who has been a member of the Gulf South Conference since 1995, joins a nine-member league that includes six NCAA Division II universities from Arkansas and three from Oklahoma.

The formal announcement of the new conference name was made today by the chief executive officers of the nine member institutions – Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, East Central University in Ada, Okla., Harding University in Searcy, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

According to a joint statement from the member institutions' presidents and chancellors, the name was chosen to "reflect the diversity of the league's geographic regions, from the Mississippi Delta of southeast Arkansas to the plains of western Oklahoma."

The six Arkansas schools are currently members of the Gulf South Conference while the Oklahoma schools hold membership in the Lone Star Conference.

Much of the impetus for the new league, according to the CEO's, was to bring together institutions with similar athletic and academic profiles as well as those in geographic proximity to lessen travel costs and missed class time for student-athletes. The new conference also recalls part of the athletic history of both states when the three Oklahoma schools were part of the now-defunct Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference and the six Arkansas schools were part of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. Teams from the OIC and AIC were frequent opponents in all sports.

"Arkansas Tech University is proud to be a Charter Member of the Great American Conference. This new association will emphasize healthy athletic competition, good sportsmanship, and academic accomplishment," Tech President Dr. Robert C. Brown said Tuesday. "We believe that, together, the member institutions will achieve significant cost and time savings in travel, and thus minimize lost class time, to the benefit of our student athletes. In addition, we are excited about the preservation of traditional rivalries and competition with opponents who are familiar to our fans."

Will Prewitt, former associate commissioner of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, was recently named commissioner of the new conference. "This is an incredible opportunity to build a conference from the ground up," said Prewitt. "When I look at the member institutions and their respective athletic histories, I think we have a chance to build something special."

The new league plans to begin competition in the fall of 2011 after approval from the NCAA.

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