July 13, 2010

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -Nine Division II schools in Arkansas and Oklahoma will apply to the NCAA for permission to create a new conference.

Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas Tech, East Central University, Harding, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Southern Arkansas and Southwestern Oklahoma State announced their intentions Tuesday. The Arkansas schools are currently in the Gulf South Conference, and the Oklahoma schools are in the Lone Star.

The schools say they are trying to limit travel costs and plan to submit a strategic plan, conference constitution and conference bylaws to the NCAA by Dec. 1.

Athletic schedules for the 2010-11 season will not be affected.

The loss of the Arkansas schools would drop the GSC to five football programs.

The three Oklahoma schools, which joined the Lone Star in 1995, have told the league that they plan to withdraw, commissioner Stan Wagnon said. The league says its policy is that their withdrawal would be effective in June 2012, and schools could face financial penalties if they don't play conference games until then.

The LSC would be down to 13 members after these departures. Two other Oklahoma schools now in the Lone Star, Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State, have reportedly expressed an interest in joining the another Division II league, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

The GSC has earned plenty of prestige over the years. Valdosta State (Ga.) won the national championship in football in 2007 and 2004, and Delta State (Miss.) won it in 2000. North Alabama won three straight titles from 1993-95.

Last month, Southern Arkansas pitcher Hayden Simpson was picked in the first round of the baseball draft by the Chicago Cubs.