Birmingham, AL— Presidents and Chancellors of the Gulf South Conference acting unanimously, announced Monday that North Greenville University will join the Gulf South Conference with competition beginning in 2018. The addition of the NGU football program increases football participation in the league to 10 teams.
North Greenville football has been looking for a conference to call home since joining the NCAA in 2001, and the Crusaders have finally found that home in the GSC. NGU Football has spent the past 14 seasons as one of five independents in the NCAA, but was part of a "conference alliance" with the South Atlantic Conference starting in 2011, an agreement which ended in 2014.
The Gulf South Conference is a charter member of NCAA Division II dating back to its creation in the summer of 1970. The league is now composed of 12 active members and four affiliate members. The addition of North Greenville expands the GSC's footprint to six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee).
"Gulf South Conference football is the standard for Division II and is an aspirational league for many programs. We welcome North Greenville University to the conference, and I am confident that they will add to the already impressive depth of quality programs within the GSC," Commissioner Matt Wilson said. "Our membership worked diligently to create this mutually beneficial relationship, and we are excited to partner with NGU. I appreciate the work by Dr. Randall Pannell (interim president), Jan McDonald (Director of Athletics), Micah Sepko (Associate AD) and Coach Jeff Farrington to help the GSC throughout the process."
The Crusaders have faced Gulf South affiliated teams four times in the past 10-years, including two regular season matchups with North Alabama, a post season matchup with Delta State, and an NCCAA Victory Bowl showdown with Shorter College. NGU is 1-3 in those games, the lone win coming against the Hawks in 2014. North Greenville's loss to Delta State came in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Playoffs in 2011.
The GSC is known for its football prowess, claiming 11 national championships in its 46-year history, the most recent of which came in 2012 and was claimed by Valdosta State. GSC football teams have competed in the NCAA Division II semifinals 31 times and advanced to 16 national championship games. The league has also produced 33 Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II version of the Heisman Trophy) finalists and five winners.
In all, GSC institutions have claimed 49 NCAA Division II national championships in 13 sports.
"It is very exciting for everyone at North Greenville University as we become affiliate members of the Gulf South Conference in football," remarked Jan McDonald, North Greenville's athletic director. "We have needed a home for our football program for many years. The Gulf South is considered one of the very best if not the best NCAA Division II football conference and we will have to continue to make improvements in our football program as we compete against these institutions. As members, it will make our scheduling process much easier in the future. Again, we are very excited, we are thankful and we look forward to playing in the Gulf South."
NGU's 19 other varsity sports will remain members of the Conference Carolinas.