Battle may be brewing on new DII conference - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Battle may be brewing on new DII conference

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By Robert Hydrick - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The six Arkansas members of the Gulf South Conference announced Tuesday they are going to form a new conference with three Oklahoma schools who are currently members of the Lone Star Conference.

Arkansas Tech, Ouachita Baptist, Harding, Henderson State, Arkansas-Monticello and Southern Arkansas are forming a new conference with Lone Star members East Central University, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Southwestern Oklahoma State.

The schools believe the new conference will save money and allow their student-athletes to spend more time in the classroom.

The schools say the necessary paperwork will be filed with the NCAA by December 1 of this year and the name of the conference has not been determined.

The nine schools also say their new conference will not affect their athletic schedules for the 2010-2011 academic year.

The question is will those nine schools compete in their current conferences in 2011-2012.

Lone Star Conference Commissioner Stan Wagnon issued a statement late Monday that the three Oklahoma schools would be withdrawing on June 30, 2012 per league policy.

Wagnon says the three schools faced financial penalty if they didn't meet their conference obligations in athletic schedules until the withdrawal date.

The Gulf South Conference did not address the withdrawal date in an official statement released on Tuesday.

The GSC admits the loss of the six football schools will create a major problem in football scheduling but is excited about the future with the remaining institutions.

The GSC is also looking at expansion and possibly developing a football schedule alliance with other DII conferences.

When the six Arkansas schools leave the Gulf South, Valdosta State will be one of just five members in the GSC that play football.

Current GSC member West Florida is considering adding the sport and a NAIA member Lambuth is wanting to join the NCAA DII and Gulf South Conference sometime in the future.

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