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NCAA Board Approves Great West Application, Granted “Official” Status

Category: Great West Expansion & Realignment

The NCAA board of directors has approved the Great West’s application, officially making it the 32nd multi-sport conference in Division I athletics. The Great West was established in 2004 as a football-only conference but expanded in 2008 to become a conference for all sports and landing spot for many Divison I independents. While this does give the Great West a seat at the NCAA-DI table, it does not guarantee them a spot in any of the NCAA post-season tournaments, nor does it give them the ability to invite/sponsor upgrading Division II schools into the conference.

While this is a good step for the youngest NCAA-DI conference, it may not be enough to hold together its wacky membership of schools that range from Utah and New Jersey, to Chicago and Houston. With North Dakota leaving for the Big Sky conference in 2012, the Great West will be down to only 5 members, each of which is also looking for an invitation to a more established conference in their own region. Even if the Great West is able to add Cal St. Bakersfield and Longwood University (the last of the D1 independents) to reach the required minimum of 7 active member institutions, it seems highly unlikely that they would be able to hold onto its members long enough to get approval to able invite DII schools into the conference. Unless the NCAA makes an exception for the conference or changes the rules regarding Division II upgrades, the Great West may no longer exist at the end of this decade.

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