Valdosta Daily Times

July 19, 2011

Shorter, Union cleared to join D-II transition process

Staff Writer
The Valdosta Daily Times

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Gulf South Conference has announce that Union University and Shorter University have both been selected to begin the transition process into NCAA Division II.

Union, located in Jackson, Tenn., received word on July 11 while Shorter, based in Rome, got the call on July 12.

Both schools immediately begin the three-year transition process, first as a candidate member for the NCAA during the 2011-2012 season, during which they will remain an active affiliate of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Beginning in 2012-2013 and continuing through the 2013-2014 academic years, the schools will operate as an NCAA “provisional status” member while moving towards membership in the Gulf South Conference.

“We are absolutely delighted with membership committee’s decision,” GSC commissioner Nate Salant said. “We worked long and hard to assist Union and Shorter with their application process with an eye towards including them in the repopulated GSC.”

During the provisional status period, Union and Shorter will compete against full Gulf South Conference and Division II schedules and be required to operate under Division II regulations, but will be ineligible to compete in postseason play.

Salant said Shorter and Union are both ideal candidates to join the league for several different reasons.

“Our plan has been to repopulate the Gulf South Conference with academically stronger institutions that are committed to contending for national championships and are located inside our geographical footprint,” Salant said. “Also, both schools play sports that we need. Shorter has football, men’s soccer and women’s golf. Union has men’s soccer and women’s golf as well.”

Both schools released statements expressing their gratitude to the NCAA and GSC for accepting them into the membership process.

“We are so very pleased that the NCAA has opened the door for Union University to move forward with the membership process, which will allow Union to compete with NCAA Division II institutions,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “We are grateful for the wonderful support that we have received from the Gulf South Conference commissioner and member institutions. The Union community is quite hopeful for good days ahead for our coaches, student-athletes and fans.”

Shorter, which finished as the third-best NAIA athletic program in the Learfield Cup standings, is also looking forward to competing against the best the GSC has to offer.

“The Gulf South Conference is one of the premier conferences in NCAA Division II and we are very proud that they endorsed us for NCAA Division II membership,” said Peterson. “We look forward to beginning competition within the GSC in 2012-13 and beginning competitive rivalries with folks such as Valdosta State, West Georgia, North Alabama, the University of Alabama-Huntsville and all of the other great schools in that conference.”

The additions of Shorter and Union would be a huge boost to the GSC, which has lost all six Arkansas schools to the newly formed Great American Conference. The GSC recently added the University of New Orleans. However, the conference could be facing the loss of North Alabama. In June, UNA’s board of trustees approved a resolution to pursue moving to Division I.

Salant said that even with the additions of Shorter and Union, there may be more additions to the GSC in the near future.

“What a difference a year makes! A year ago, we were looking at the loss of six schools from our conference. Now, we’ve been able to add the University of New Orleans, Shorter University and Union University,” Salant said. “But we also are looking into opportunities in our expansion plans to include additional football and non-football playing schools.”