The Great American Conference is officially on the map.

Maybe you’ve noticed that schools like East Central and Southeastern have, as of July, taken the link to the Lone Star Conference off their official athletic website and replaced it with one sending readers to the new (and not quite ready for action yet) Great American Conference site.

The GAC is the NCAA’s newest conference and the 23rd to come into existence in Division II. It is currently comprised of three schools from Oklahoma (East Central, Southeastern and Southwestern) and six from Arkansas (Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas Tech, Harding, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist and Southern Arkansas).  Two more members will come into the fold beginning in 2012:  Northwestern Oklahoma and Southern Nazarene.

These nine schools recently did their business in the Lone Star Conference and the Gulf South Conference, but before that were in the NAIA and competed with the long-standing Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference and Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference.  In the current GAC format, many rivalries will be continued, renewed or simply find their beginnings.

The Great American Conference will be in the South Central region of the D-II landscape in 2011-2012 and will then move to the Central region in 2012-2013.  The GAC will not receive an automatic bid to playoff competition for its champions until 2013-2014, but at-large bids will still be available.