The Great West Conference, formerly known as The Great West Football Conference is expanding into an all-sport conference. The announcement came today. Joining together to make the conference are the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota, Utah Valley State, Texas-Pan American, Houston Baptist, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The Great West Football Conference includes the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota, Cal Poly, UC Davis and Southern Utah. Football-only members Cal Poly and UC Davis will remain in the Great West for the balance of their athletic teams, while Southern Utah will continue to compete in the Summit League.
North Dakota and South Dakota, new football members that will begin play in the fall, as well as Houston Baptist are currently in their second year of transition up to the Division I level. All three schools will become NCAA Division I counters for scheduling purposes in 2009-10. Texas-Pan American has been a member of NCAA Division I for many years, while Utah Valley University and NJIT become active Division I members in 2009-10.
I'm all for independents finding a home, especially since I go to the University of North Dakota. Finding a conference home is the next step in the D-1 transition and this will surely benefit all schools involved, and that's what counts. It will be really interesting to see where this goes but to me it seems as though The Great West will be used mainly as a stepping stone for independents (like they have been in the past for football). There is also a couple speculated/expected acceptees in the futures. Expected to join soon are Seattle University and Chicago State.
This is a really exciting time for a lot of athletes, students, coaches, and fans. I myself am a little excited. I think the Great West really has something to offer to the D-1 transitionee's (notice how I no longer said independents!)