Gulf South, Lone Star schools say talks "positive"

By The Associated Press

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Presidents, chancellors and athletic directors from nine NCAA Division II schools in Arkansas and Oklahoma met Friday to discuss the possibility of forming a new conference in an attempt to reduce travel.

The six Arkansas schools — Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas Tech, Harding, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist and Southern Arkansas — are in the Gulf South Conference. The Oklahoma schools — East Central, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Southwestern Oklahoma State — are in the Lone Star Conference.

Harding and Ouachita Baptist were Lone Star members for a time before joining the Gulf South 10 years ago.

Presidents of the eight schools at the meeting, along with the chancellor of Arkansas-Monticello, released a statement Friday saying the discussion was producing “positive results” — but that athletic schedules for 2010-11 will not be affected.

“We found during the course of our meeting that we have similar concerns and that we are like-minded in our approach to intercollegiate athletics,” the statement said.

Three other Oklahoma schools that compete in the Lone Star — Central Oklahoma, Cameron and Northeastern State — were not involved with the meeting. The Oklahoman has reported that Central Oklahoma and Northeastern have expressed an interest in joining another Division II league, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, which is comprised of Missouri and Kansas schools.