Trevecca Nazarene has found a new home for its athletics programs.
As of Nov. 18, the Trojans will be charter members of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC), which would be the 24th conference in NCAA Division II.
Trevecca was accepted as a provisional Division II member in July and has entered its final academic year as a member of the NAIA’s TranSouth Athletic Conference.
The university plans to compete as a NCAA Division II independent in 2012-13 with the hope that the G-MAC will begin competition in the fall of 2013.
“The bottom line is that this is a really good thing for us because it gets us into the Division II conference alignment with other Division II schools across the region and nationally,” Trevecca’s first-year athletics director Mark Elliott said.
The new league includes four Ohio schools (Cedarville University, Central State University, Urbana University and Ursuline College) that are currently Division II independents plus Kentucky Wesleyan, which currently is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Panthers have captured eight national men’s basketball championships, the last coming in 2001.
Elliott said the G-MAC is also considering Georgetown (Ky.) and Kentucky State, which would give the league four schools on both sides of the Ohio River.
“We’re excited about the schools that are in there,” Elliott said. “Not only are they institutional fits for us but they are also a bunch of really strong programs that are there that have won some national championships.”
Division II currently has a moratorium on adding new conferences, but that could change come January when new legislation will be voted upon. If the G-MAC applies for membership with six schools by the end of the year, the league will be able to receive automatic bids to the national tournaments in three years. The new legislation, however, would require new conferences to have at least 10 member schools and it would be five years before earning automatic qualifiers for postseason play.
“We really believe the moratorium on conferences will be lifted in January,” Elliott said. “If they don’t lift the moratorium ... we will have a conference. We’ll have all the organization put together, they just won’t recognize us.”
Besides the G-MAC, Trevecca looked at joining three other conferences — the Gulf South, Peach Belt and South Atlantic. Elliott said the Gulf South “strongly requested us to start football” but with just 1,000 undergraduate students he wasn’t sure if it was a good fit. The Peach Belt wasn’t set to expand for at least another two years and is spread out with seven Georgia schools, one in Florida, four in the Carolinas and one in Alabama. The South Atlantic Conference presidents agreed not to expand to Nashville. The SAC currently has two Tennessee schools, Carson-Newman and Tusculum, both of which are East of Knoxville.
With the search going nowhere, Elliott got into discussions with officials at Cedarville.
“So we got into talks with other schools about creating our own,” Elliott said. “We have some diversity. We have some like-minded sizes with Division II athletic programs. After those discussions had already been started, they became excited to bring a town like Nashville and a school like Trevecca into that conference.”