NEW ORLEANS – The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference has extended membership to Wilberforce University (Ohio), beginning in the 2024-2025 season.
Wilberforce received a unanimous vote from the GCAC’s Council of Presidents in September and will officially join the NAIA-only HBCU conference on July 1, 2024.
“We are elated to have Wilberforce in our conference,” said GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes. “Adding members strengthens our ability to execute every aspect of our strategic plan and own the narrative of HBCU excellence.”
As the only HBCU conference within the NAIA, the GCAC represents a vibrant community of like-minded institutions committed to empowering student-athletes through exceptional educational experiences.
Wilberforce University President Vann R. Newkirk expressed his enthusiasm over the move.
“Currently, Wilberforce University has few regional rivalries. This impacts fan interest and the ability of the University to garner the interest of students. Joining an all-HBCU conference allows graduates of the institution to rekindle relations with schools that the University historically had rivalries. It also allows us to tap into regional HBCU alumni bases and thus increase our ability to earn a few dollars to support our athletic programs. Finally, for our students, it allows them to participate against similarly funded programs and to attend games against familiar teams.”
Wilberforce University, founded in 1856, is the nation’s oldest, private, historically black University owned and operated by African Americans.
“We are excited about being a part of the GCAC,” said Wilberforce Director of Athletics John Hill. “Wilberforce has excellence, and joining the GCAC gives us the opportunity to display that. We are building on a multitude of levels, and this energy is one of those levels. We want to engage further, and this is a way to bridge the gap between the university and the community.”