Monday, February 7, 2011

GSC re-alignment: UNO may be on the way in, UNA on the way out

If all goes well, things could be looking up for Delta State and the rest of the Gulf South Conference members.
The University of New Orleans recently announced that it has submitted a proposal to join the Division-II based GSC, which recently lost six of its members after the Arkansas schools left for a new conference.
The Louisiana Board of Supervisors could vote on the measure as early as March 4, and if approved it will then go before the Division II Membership Committee for approval in late March or early April. If accepted, UNO would compete under Division II rules for 2011-12 and could become a GSC member in 2012-13.
"The University of New Orleans is a perfect fit for the GSC and has interested us for quite some time," GSC Commissioner Nate Salant said in a released statement. "It is comparable to most of our current members in terms of its enrollment size, wide variety of undergraduate majors and advanced degrees..."
UNO, which has faced declining enrollment due to Hurricane Katrina, currently does not field a football team. And football scheduling has been an important issue for the GSC since only five of its current members participate.
GSC members Christian Brothers, West Florida and University of Alabama in Huntsville do not have football teams. And according to the Associated Press, Division II powerhouse and GSC member North Alabama is considering a move to Division-I. They plan to make their decision by mid-March.
UNO does, however, plan to have a football program in place by 2015.
"Given that (UNO) has committed to adding football, UNO is even more attractive now...," said Salant.
Salant told the Birmingham News that five institutions are currently being evaluated to join the conference, including Shorter University, located in Rome, Ga. West Florida is also expected to add a football program in the future.
"We expect we will be back to 12 (schools) very shortly, with at least nine or 10 playing football," Salant told the Birmingham News.
UNO's addition would be special for the school athletic director Amy Champion, who played for Delta State's 1991-92 national championship women's basketball team.
"In order for this athletic department to succeed, football is a necessity," said Champion. "for the first time in the history of this university, football is a matter of 'when' and not 'if.' "
Lambuth University was once considering a move to the GSC, but recent financial issues and a decline in enrollment have caused talks to cease.

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