NECC to Support the Great American Conference as the League Announces the Addition of Esports

GAC set to officially begin sponsoring play this semester and will offer competition across four titles

The Great American Conference (GAC) announced today it will be adding esports to the conference’s competitive offerings beginning this fall. Esports programs throughout the league will begin competing against one another this semester and the conference will be sponsoring championships across four game titles during the 2024-25 academic year.

The GAC’s esports effort will be managed in collaboration with the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC), one of the largest collegiate esports conferences in North America. The NECC will be responsible for the overall management, scheduling, and structure for the conference and was selected by the member institutions to ensure safe and fair competition.

The GAC becomes the third NCAA Division II Conference to sponsor esports. The Peach Belt Conference and the East Coast Conference are currently the only other Division II conferences offering championship competition in esports.

“We are excited to have the NECC provide an avenue for students in the GAC to experience top-level competition in the growing field of esports,” said GAC Commissioner Will Prewitt. 
This newly-formed effort will see GAC championships crowned across four titles, with two being offered each semester during the upcoming academic year.

League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Singles sill be offered during the fall, with Overwatch 2 and Rocket League sponsored in the spring.

"We are thrilled to announce the addition of esports to the Great American Conference,” said Dr. Hayden Harrington, DCS, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Director of Southwestern Oklahoma State University Esports.

“This marks an exciting new chapter for our conference, and we are eager to allow our student-athletes to compete at the highest levels in this rapidly growing field. Partnering with the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC) allows us to offer our teams access to premier competitions, resources, and support. We look forward to working closely with the NECC to build a dynamic and successful esports program that reflects the same level of excellence we strive for in all our athletic endeavors." 

Each title will feature a seven-week regular season, with the top four teams in each qualifying for the postseason. Each of the four games will then have a Semifinal Round of competition, followed by a conference Championship Final.

League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Singles will crown their champions in November, while Overwatch 2 and Rocket League will award their champions in March and April, respectively.

“We’re extremely excited to be working with the GAC to help bring esports to the conference,” said NECC CEO Jacob VanRyn.

“The GAC is the first NCAA Division II Conference we’ve partnered with to help support the league as they officially add esports to their competitive offerings. We’ve had the pleasure to work with a number of the conference’s member institutions previously and we’re extremely proud to help support the GAC in this endeavor.”

The GAC’s esports effort will officially begin play on Thursday, September 26th with the first night of League of Legends competition. Super Smash Bros. Singles will commence play the following day. Overwatch 2 and Rocket League will begin their seasons in January.
The mission of the Great American Conference is to develop student-athletes at each of its member institutions physically, academically and socially by allowing them the opportunity for a quality education, compete in athletics, and to become productive citizens within their communities.

Conference member institutions strive toward this mission by following the academic guidelines set forth within their own institutions, adhering to NCAA and conference rules and regulations, embracing the NCAA Division II Strategic Positioning Platform, and by employing sound financial principles in the administration of their athletics programs. The GAC shall promote the conduct of competitive sports programs within the conference, region and nationally. Each member institution shall promote good sportsmanship, diversity and gender balance while striving to field competitive programs.

League members include University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas Tech University, East Central University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Baptist University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southern Arkansas University, Southern Nazarene University, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University
The NECC fosters innovative competition experiences, provides quality broadcasting services, and works to support an inclusive community within collegiate esports. The NECC was started to provide the collegiate gaming community with the respect it warranted and deserved. The conference prides itself on responding to the needs of its schools, directors, coaches, and most importantly - its players.

With more than 500 colleges and universities currently competing, the NECC strives to be a positive home for the collegiate gaming community.

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