A New Era: Great American Conference

The new NCAA Division II athletics conference that Arkansas Tech University and eight other institutions will form in 2011 will be known as the Great American Conference.

The name of the new conference was announced via press release on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Arkansas Tech University, the University of Arkansas at Monticello, East Central University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Southern Arkansas University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University will be the charter members of the Great American Conference.

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 chief executive officers of the nine member institutions announced on Tuesday, July 13, that they intended to apply to the National Collegiate Athletic Association for permission to create a new NCAA Division II conference.

“The intent of the conference is to group together similar institutions in terms of budgets and goals,” said the presidents, chancellors and directors of athletics from the nine institutions in a joint statement in July. “Furthermore, the conference is intended to be made up of universities that field an intercollegiate football program. Our most important goals in this new endeavor are to limit time away from class and limit our travel costs.”

Will Prewitt, who previously served as the associate commissioner of the NCAA Division II West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, has been hired to serve as the Great American Conference’s first commissioner.

“I grew up around small college athletics,” said Prewitt in a radio interview with KWKK 100.9 FM in late October. “It’s something that I’ve been around virtually since I was big enough was to walk. Small college athletics can be so important in a place like Russellville, Ark., Magnolia, Ark., or Ada, Okla. I can’t imagine a more exciting professional opportunity than this one, and I can’t wait to get to work and learn about the traditions and the rivalries in our new league.”

Pending approval from the NCAA, the Great American Conference plans to begin competition in fall 2011.