Monday, June 28, 2010

DSU's McClain confident GSC will be saved

CLEVELAND — Delta State University and the Gulf South Conference may have football scheduling conflicts in the near future if the six Arkansas schools depart to form their own conference with at least three Oklahoma schools.
But DSU athletic director Jeremy McClain is confident that the GSC will implement a plan before it's too late.
“I think there will be a short-term and long-term plan in place,” McClain said this morning.
The GSC had their annual meetings last week in Birmingham, and although no final decision has been made on whether the six schools will make the leap, all signs point toward their eventual exit.
If the six Arkansas schools leave the Gulf South Conference as expected, the GSC will be left with only five football playing institutions.
Six are needed for NCAA funding.
Lambuth, a NAIA school, UNC-Pembroke and West Florida, who is considering adding a football program, have been rumored to fill the needed void.
The six schools expected to leave Arkansas Tech, Southern Arkansas, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist, Harding and Arkansas-Monticello.
McClain acknowledged that the GSC has considered adding Lambuth and that “several other options” are on the table.
A message for GSC commissioner Nate Salant was not returned by press time.
However, he reportedly said he would like for all the GSC schools to remain together, if possible.
“UNC-Pembroke is interested in a scheduling relationship with our schools and West Florida is considering adding football,” Salant told the Birmingham News. “But I want to make it clear that we'd rather remain together.
Salant cited one of the biggest reasons for the schools possible departure are travel costs.
“The two biggest things are cost of operation and cost of travel,” he told the newspaper. “We can't change geography, but what we need to do is, given the economy, is eliminate as much travel as we can — especially in football because it's the greatest cost to transport.”
The GSC issued a statement Friday saying that a final decision is expected no later than August 1.
There will be no scheduling conflicts during the 2010-11 year, according to the release.
“Considerations of geography and cost are driving these discussions,” the statement said.
DSU's 2010 football schedule includes five of the six Arkansas schools.
The Statesmen open their schedule Sept. 4 when they travel to Jackson State.

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