Southeastern Oklahoma State University is now a member of the Great American Conference.
Southeastern 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.
“We are excited about the opportunity of joining the Great American Conference,” said Keith Baxter, Southeastern Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “The Great American name reinforces the philosophies and beliefs that the member institutions maintain and seek to build upon. As we begin a new chapter in Southeastern athletics, President (Larry) Minks and I believe that this new conference will be very competitive, while serving the best interests of our student-athletes.”
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.
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.