Mississippi College chooses Division II

The Choctaws learned earlier this season how far they area from the top teams in Division II, losing to current No. 10 West Alabama 41-3.
Mississippi College athletics photo by David Nichols
The former D-II school already has D-II facilities, with the Golden Dome hosting basketball.
Mississippi College athletics photo by Aaron Boersma

By Kyle Robarts

Mississippi College has announced it will apply to move from NCAA Division III to Division II, confirming an earlier report by D3sports.com.

Sources with knowledge of the situation say that the Gulf South Conference has extended an invitation and that the school’s administration will accept.

This will be the second school in the past three years to leave the American Southwest Conference to return to scholarship athletics along with McMurry. McMurry began competing at the NCAA Division II level beginning this fall after announcing the move in December 2010.

After extensive study by university officials, MC’s board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation from president Lee Royce and its executive committee to move forward with an application.

Mississippi College has requested that the ASC allow the Choctaws to compete for a final year within the conference in its last year as a Division III school. The ASC granted the request for McMurry who remained a member of the ASC in its first year of transition to Division II during the 2011-12 school year.

If the move goes as expected, the American Southwest Conference would drop to six football teams by 2014, and maybe as early as 2013 if the ASC does not accept MC’s request to remain a member next season. This would drop the conference below the minimum of teams (seven) required for an automatic qualifier to the NCAA playoffs.

No other automatic qualifiers should be in danger for a conference that currently has 14 schools and has had as many as 16. If the conference remains in a divisional format for basketball, the East Division would have East Texas Baptist, LeTourneau, Louisiana College, Texas-Dallas, Texas-Tyler and University of the Ozarks. The West would have Concordia (Texas), Hardin-Simmons, Howard Payne, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Sul Ross State.

The Choctaws were a Division II member through the 1995-96 school year and were a member of the Gulf South Conference. Mississippi College won the Division II national championship in football in 1989, but the title was later revoked by the NCAA due to rules violations.

With McMurry’s departure this season, Texas Lutheran’s transition to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in 2013, and MC’s departure by 2014, the league would be left with six football teams: Hardin-Simmons, Howard Payne, Mary Hardin-Baylor, Sul Ross State, Louisiana College and East Texas Baptist.