Nine schools forming Div. II conference

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Six Arkansas schools and three in Oklahoma said Tuesday they have agreed to form the Great American Conference, which should begin Division II competition next year.

A joint statement from the presidents and chancellors of the nine schools said 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 new conference plans to begin competition in the fall of 2011 after receiving approval from the NCAA.

The Arkansas members of the new conference include Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Harding in Searcy, Henderson State and Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia, Southern Arkansas in Magnolia and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Members from Oklahoma would be East Central in Ada, Southeastern Oklahoma State in Durant and Southeastern Oklahoma State in Weatherford.

The Arkansas members are currently members of the Gulf South Conference, which has members from Arkansas to Georgia. The Oklahoma schools are in the Lone Star, whose members are located in cities from Oklahoma to far southern Texas to New Mexico.

The statement said travel costs and travel time away from classes for student-athletes were factors in formation of the new league.

Will Prewitt, former associate commissioner of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, was recently named commissioner of the new conference.