RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. - Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Southern Nazarene University have accepted provisional membership invitations into the NCAA Division II Great American Conference.
Southern Nazarene is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene and is located in Bethany, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Northwestern Oklahoma State is a member of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, as is GAC members East Central University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. NWOSU is located in Alva, Oklahoma. Both institutions are currently members of the NAIA's Sooner Athletic Conference and the Central States Football League.
Each school will gain full GAC status upon completing the three-year NCAA Division II membership process. SNU and NWOSU will not compete in the GAC in the 2011-12 academic year, but it is anticipated that the pair will be added to conference schedules for the 2012-13 season.
Both programs bring a legacy of athletic success to the Great American Conference. Southern Nazarene has captured ten NAIA national titles, including seven in women's basketball. Squads representing the Crimson Storm have also recorded a pair of women's golf national championships and a men's basketball crown. SNU's athletic department fields teams in 17 NCAA-recognized sports.
Northwestern Oklahoma State boasts a strong football tradition. The Rangers earned the 1999 NAIA football championship and have held the number one ranking in that association eleven times since the start of the 2000 season. NWOSU varsity squads compete in eleven sports.
A GAC visit team, led by Southwestern Oklahoma State University president Randy Beutler, made trips to both campuses in April. The team consisting of administrators from member schools and conference office staff recommended that each school receive a provisional invitation to league membership. The conference's chief executive officers ratified that recommendation with a unanimous vote on Tuesday afternoon via teleconference.
The Great American Conference begins play this fall. Charter members of the GAC include: University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas Tech University, East Central University (OK), Harding University (AR), Henderson State University (AR), Ouachita Baptist University (AR), Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southern Arkansas University, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
The eventual addition of NWOSU and SNU will allow the GAC to increase the league's number of Division II-recognized sports from 10 to 12. GAC championships will be conducted in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, women's soccer, softball, women's tennis, and volleyball. The conference will also contest a championship in men's tennis.
About Northwestern Oklahoma State University:
Location: Alva, Oklahoma (152 miles NW of Oklahoma City, 72 miles WNW of Enid)
President: Dr. Janet Cunningham
Athletic Director: Bob Battisti
Sports (11 recognized as NCAA Division II championship sports): baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, women's soccer, softball, volleyball.
About Southern Nazarene University:
Location: Bethany, Oklahoma (suburb of Oklahoma City, 10 NW of downtown)
Nickname: Crimson Storm
President: Dr. Loren Gresham
Athletic Director: Bobby Martin
Sports (17 recognized as NCAA Division II championship sports): baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, football, men's and women's soccer, softball, women's tennis, men's and women's indoor/outdoor track and field, volleyball.
What They're Saying:
Dr. David Burks, Harding University president and chairman of GAC Council of Presidents:
"We think that both Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Southern Nazarene University are great fits for the Great American Conference. We look forward to those schools becoming full members of the conference very soon."
Dr. Janet Cunningham, Northwestern Oklahoma State University president:
“We are honored to become the newest member of the Great American Conference and are excited about the opportunity that membership in this conference offers our student-athletes, coaches and fans. Northwestern is very appreciative of the confidence expressed in our university and athletic program by the unanimous vote of the presidents of the member institutions. Gaining membership in the Great American Conference certainly strengthens our efforts to gain membership in the NCAA.”
Dr. Loren Gresham, Southern Nazarene University president:
"The notification yesterday by commissioner Will Prewitt of the invitation by Great American Conference presidents to join them in a provisional membership status was enthusiastically welcomed. Our decade long exploration for a suitable affiliation which would allow for bringing our athletic programs into a single conference has hopefully now been accomplished. The opportunity to be in association with some admired Oklahoma institutions, as well as joining six similar Arkansas schools, is one that we accept with great anticipation."
Bob Battisti, Northwestern Oklahoma State University athletic director:
“We are looking forward to resuming the rivalries we have established with our sister institutions in Oklahoma and creating new ones with the outstanding universities in Arkansas. Our student-athletes will benefit from the high level of competition and the great atmosphere offered by the Great American Conference.”
Bobby Martin, Southern Nazarene University athletic director:
“We are excited to receive the invitation to become a member of the Great American Conference. This is a great day for the athletics department at Southern Nazarene University. While we don’t know what the outcome will be for our NCAA Division II membership application, being invited to join the GAC will add credence to the process. We look forward to building lasting relationships and rivalries with the great institutions of the GAC.”
Will Prewitt, Great American Conference commissioner:
"I'm impressed with the commitment that both institutions are making to gain NCAA status. Southern Nazarene and Northwestern Oklahoma State share common values with our existing membership and will be excellent competitive partners. I'm looking forward to seeing SNU and NWOSU renew long-standing rivalries and build new chapters in their athletic histories."
Posted on Wed, May 11, 2011
by Ryan Hintergardt