An all-sports division under the larger umbrella of Cal Poly’s Great West Football Conference will likely be announced today, according to conference and school officials.
South Dakota – reportedly one of 11 independent schools GWFC commissioner Ed Grom previously told the Mustang Daily the conference has discussed the division with – has announced a 1 p.m. news conference “regarding conference affiliation.”
KGBT-TV, a CBS affiliate located in Harlingen, Texas, reported Tuesday that football-less Texas-Pan American, another reported invitee, will hold a similar news conference at 10 a.m. Friday.
On a condition of anonymity, a sports information director at a school rumored to be interested in the division previously told the Mustang Daily that programs joining the Great West would likely hold their own news conferences beginning today.
Grom said Wednesday afternoon that 90 percent of the division’s formation was completed.
He said while some teams may announce their membership soon, others waiting to proclaim theirs won’t be excluded from belonging in the (perhaps near) future.
“There are a lot of things that are clear, and still some things that need more time,” he explained. “We’re going to wait on a few (of the independents contacted) but they won’t stop what we’re trying to do.”
South Dakota athletics director Joel Nielsen said Wednesday that the division is appealing “on a number of levels” – most importantly consistent affiliation within the Great West, in which it is already a first-year football member.
“I have a great sense this is the right move for us right now,” Nielsen said.
He added he wants to “encourage and entice others to join” the division, which he hopes will have a minimum of six teams.
Although Grom wouldn’t identify the schools that have discussed the division, various reports throughout the country over the past three weeks have pinpointed a geographically disparate cast of possibly interested parties.
In addition to South Dakota and Texas-Pan American, the list includes New Jersey Institute of Technology, Chicago State, Utah Valley State, Longwood (of Farmville, Va.), Seattle, Houston Baptist and North Dakota.
Of the latter seven, only North Dakota (in transition from Division II and a GWFC rookie just like neighbor South Dakota) plays football.
Longwood athletics director Troy Austin and NJIT assistant athletics director Tim Camp each declined to comment Tuesday.
Phone messages left Tuesday for athletics administrators at all of the other aforementioned schools were not returned as of Wednesday night.
Grom previously named Savannah State and football-lacking Cal State Bakersfield as schools that have been in discussions.
However, Savannah State assistant athletics director Opio Mashariki told the Mustang Daily that Savannah State (which lost in football 55-0 at Cal Poly in 2006) has picked a conference it’s interested in joining, but it isn’t the Great West.
Much the same, CSUB assistant athletics director Kevin Gilmore expressed his school’s strong desire to hold out to eventually join the Big West Conference – in which Cal Poly plays 17 of its 20 sports.