After being initially turned down in its bid for NCAA Division II membership earlier this summer, Mississippi College appealed. The NCAA Membership Committee overturned the earlier decision to pave the way for acceptance into the Division II membership process.
"We're on our way to Division II," MC vice president for advancement Bill Townsend said. "It's a great day for Mississippi College athletics and athletes."
"Mississippi College and its athletics staff and coaches have provided leadership in athletics administration and competition throughout its tenure in the American Southwest Conference," Amy Carlton, ASC commissioner, said. "I fully expect MC to continue to be a leader in the ASC as it completes its membership this year, and to take a strong leadership position in Division II and the Gulf South Conference in the future."
The immediate start of the Division II membership process will affect postseason opportunities for Mississippi College in 2013-14. Per NCAA Division III Bylaw 126.96.36.199 as adopted in January 2013, a Division III member institution reclassifying to Division II is not eligible to participate in Division III championships or receive Division III grant and initiative funding once it begins the Division II reclassification process.
Under an approved Division III Championships Committee waiver requested by the American Southwest Conference in May 2013, contests against Mississippi College will count as in-region competition for all ASC and Division III institutions throughout 2013-14.
An ASC member institution that is ineligible for a Division III championship is ineligible to participate in the ASC Championship Tournament in sports where the league holds an automatic qualifier to the NCAA postseason. During 2013-14, Mississippi College teams in AQ sports will count toward regular-season standings, but will not be able to compete in the ASC Championship Tournament and play for the conference title. Student-athletes remain eligible for academic, weekly and postseason awards in all sports.
Returning to the Gulf South Conference – MC was a member from 1972 through 1996 – the Choctaws will renew rivalries with teams like Delta State, West Alabama, Valdosta State, North Alabama, and face new Baptist-affiliated opponents like Union University of Jackson, Tennessee and Shorter University of Rome, Georgia.
"This is a great day for the Gulf South Conference," said GSC Commissioner Nate Salant, who was reached in New York at the time of the announcement on the Clinton campus.