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By David Pickle
The number of Division II conferences increased to 23 recently with the addition of the new Great American Conference in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The new conference, led by Commissioner Will Prewitt, is composed of nine institutions that previously were members of the Lone Star and Gulf South Conferences.
Members are Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas Tech, East Central, Harding, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist, Southeastern Oklahoma, Southern Arkansas and Southwest Oklahoma State.
The Great American Conference applied for membership last December and was not affected by a moratorium on new conference membership that was established at the January 2011 Convention.
The Division II Championships Committee, anticipating the approval of the conference, recommended a regional assignment for 2011-12 and beyond at its February meeting. The Division II Management Council will consider that recommendation in April; the decision will be announced at the conclusion of that meeting.
Prewitt said the Dec.1 application deadline actually fell on his first day as commissioner. He praised the work of the conference’s presidents and athletics directors in framing the application, along with the efforts of consultants Bob Oliver and Chuck Lindemann.
Prewitt added that the process itself was not only reasonable but helpful to the conference as it started operations.
“It was really very beneficial for us,” he said. “The process has helped us hone in on Division II’s identity, our principles and to really incorporate those into our working documents and how we structure things within the conference. It really was a great exercise for us because it helped us work through those things.
“Obviously, as proud members of Division II, we want to embody all of the attributes in the Division II platform. It’s exciting being a league that’s being formed after we’ve gone through all those things to differentiate ourselves, to be a league that came into existence following that, to be able, for lack of a better term, to work those things into our DNA as a conference.”