The chief executive officers of nine universities in Arkansas and Oklahoma — including East Central University — announced today, that they intend to apply to the National Collegiate Athletic Association for permission to create a new NCAA Division II conference.

The other members of the proposed new conference would be the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas Tech University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southern Arkansas University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

“The intent of the conference is to group together similar institutions in terms of budgets and goals,” said the presidents, chancellors and directors of athletics from the nine institutions in a joint statement. “Furthermore, the conference is intended to be made up of universities that field an intercollegiate football program. Our most important goals in this new endeavor are to limit time away from class and limit our travel costs.”

The nine member institutions plan to submit a conference strategic plan, a conference constitution and conference by-laws to the NCAA by Dec. 1, 2010.

“This was a well thought out and researched decision, keeping in mind what was in the best interest of our student-athletes,” said ECU Athletic Director Brian DeAngelis. “The closer geographical proximity of these schools will mean less travel time, reduced cost, and less missed class time for our student-athletes. We’re extremely excited about this joint venture with our fellow Oklahoma schools (Southeastern and Southwestern) and the six Arkansas schools. We look forward to the work that is in front of us with the goal of becoming a fully certified Division II conference by the summer of 2011.”

No decisions have been made regarding the name of the new conference or the location of the conference office.

The pursuit of creating the new conference will not affect athletic schedules for the 2010-11 academic year.

“Withdrawing members are obligated to play all approved LSC athletic competitions with other members up to the effective withdrawal date. In the event of inability or refusal to meet those obligations, the withdrawing member(s) shall pay a financial penalty unless such competitions are waived or modified by written consent of the parties affected,” said LSC Commissioner Stan Wagnon.

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