NEW ORLEANS — The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference will hire its first full-time commissioner and, during the spring of 2022, will revive four championship sports.
These were some of the highlights of the GCAC’s annual summer meetings, which included presidents, directors of athletics, coaches and staff of the seven-member colleges and were conducted online July 14-16 on Zoom.
Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes, the GCAC’s interim commissioner since March 2019 and the director of athletics at GCAC member Dillard University, said reduced expenses and increased revenue from 2019-20 GCAC championship events and an increase in league dues for 2020-21 will help fund the salary of the GCAC’s new commissioner.
“We hope to have a new commissioner hired and on the job by Jan. 4, 2021,” Barnes said. “Our new commissioner will continue to work to advance strategic growth and seek corporate sponsorships to help fund our initiatives.”
“I am grateful that the Council of Presidents selected me to lead the conference through this transition,” Barnes also said. “These decisions mark a critical moment in the conference’s history. As we enter the GCAC’s 40th year of existence, I am excited to pass the baton to our next leader who will work to ensure the GCAC thrives for another 40 years.”
The GCAC voted to revive championship competition in the spring sports of baseball, softball, men’s tennis and women’s tennis. This will increase the number of GCAC championship sports to 11 — currently conducted are men’s and women’s championships in cross country, basketball and outdoor track and field and a women’s championship in volleyball.
The champions of those 2022 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championship events in baseball, softball and tennis would qualify for automatic bids to NAIA National Championship tournaments if the GCAC has six-or-more teams in those respective sports. Currently, the GCAC has five baseball schools, four in softball and three apiece in men’s and women’s tennis.
The GCAC’s other members are Edward Waters College, Philander Smith College, Rust College, Talladega College, Tougaloo College and Xavier University of Louisiana.
The GCAC announced Tuesday it will make a final decision on fall competition by Sept. 1. The league continues to monitor and assess developments during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down U.S. collegiate competition since the second half of March.