The Wiley College Department of Athletics began a new era on Friday when its membership in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference became official.
Wiley College’s membership was approved in January after a unanimous vote by the GCAC Council of Presidents. It will be the only Texas school in the conference with other members from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.
The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference – which was founded in 1981 – will have eight full-time members for the 2022-23 academic year. Joining with Wiley College is Oakwood University (Ala.) and Southern University at New Orleans – which is restarting its athletic program. Returning members of the conference are Dillard University (La.), Fisk University (Tenn.), Philander Smith College (Ark.), Rust College (Miss.) and Tougaloo College (Miss.).
Departing member Edward Waters University reached the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women’s Volleyball National Championship Opening Round. Tougaloo College men’s basketball qualified for the NAIA Opening Round. The Rust College women’s basketball team reached the final of the NAIA Opening Round and received votes in the final Top 25 poll. The Dillard men’s track and field team had three All-Americans and the women had one.
Thursday was Wiley College’s final day as a member of the Red River Athletic Conference – which it helped start in 1998. During its run, the Wildcats won 18 conference titles with 12 in the regular season and six in tournaments. They were runner-ups for the All-Sports Trophy in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Wiley College won the conference GPA title in 2012, 2013 and 2019. The 2022 GPA title is to be determined.
In its inaugural season in the GCAC, Wiley College will compete for championships in volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and men’s and women’s track and field. The Wildcats will compete in men’s and women’s soccer and golf but as club teams.
The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference will be the fifth conference that Wiley College has been a part of. Before the Red River Athletic Conference, it was members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Interregional Athletic Conference and the Big State Athletic Conference.