NEW ORLEANS – Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes has announced the addition of Voorhees University into the conference, effective July 1, 2024. The unanimous approval by the GCAC Council of Presidents marks a historic moment for Voorhees and the entire conference, as the addition of Voorhees extends the GCAC’s footprint into the Atlantic states.
“The landscape of athletics is changing, and we are working hard to stay ahead of the curve,” said GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes. “I want to thank President Hopkins for his visionary leadership and desire to join hands to create a greater impact within the HBCU space. We are just scratching the surface of what our conference is doing to grow and expand, and I’m elated to have Voorhees as one of our members.”
Founded in 1897, Voorhees University has a rich history of academic excellence and a proud tradition of athletics. The decision to join the GCAC underscores Voorhees’ commitment to providing its student-athletes with a competitive and enriching collegiate experience within the realm of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Dr. Ronnie Hopkins, President of Voorhees University, says his institution has taken a step to advance the nation’s first HBCU founded by an African-American woman, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, to the next level of excellence. “Voorhees University is honored and thrilled to join the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, recognized as one of the most progressive conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). We believe this move not only enhances the conference’s geographic diversity but also creates new avenues for collaboration and competition. We look forward to fostering meaningful relationships with our fellow member institutions and furthering the GCAC’s mission of developing student-athletes academically, athletically, and personally.”
The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, recognized as one of the most progressive conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), is comprised solely of HBCUs. This expansion comes shortly after the recent approval of Wilberforce University (Ohio) as another distinguished member of the GCAC, further solidifying the conference’s commitment to growth and excellence.
Voorhees University’s addition to the GCAC not only enhances the conference’s geographic diversity but also brings new opportunities for collaboration and competition. The move will foster meaningful relationships between Voorhees and the existing member institutions while promoting the GCAC’s mission of advancing the development of student-athletes academically, athletically, and personally.
Charlene Johnson, Voorhees University Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics has been intentional about engaging Voorhees with other HBCUs, athletically and academically. “The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference has a long-standing commitment to nurturing well-rounded student-athletes who excel both on and off the field. Voorhees University shares these core values, making this partnership a natural fit. We are excited about the opportunities this membership brings and the chance to contribute to the GCAC’s tradition of excellence. Voorhees University is poised to embrace the exciting opportunities that lie ahead and continue our journey of excellence.”
The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference takes pride in its dedication to nurturing well-rounded student-athletes who excel both on and off the field. Voorhees University’s core values align seamlessly with those of the GCAC, making this partnership a natural fit.
The addition of Voorhees University, and the recent announcement of Wilberforce University, to the GCAC signifies a bold step toward shaping the future of HBCU athletics within the NAIA. The GCAC is poised to continue its tradition of excellence while embracing the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
About the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) is the only HBCU conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The GCAC membership includes Dillard University (LA), Fisk University (TN), Oakwood University (AL), Philander Smith College (AR), Rust College (MS), Southern University at New Orleans (LA), Talladega College (AL), Tougaloo College (MS), University of the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas) and Wiley College (TX). GCAC sponsors championships in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s track and field, women’s volleyball, and baseball. In 2022, the GCAC secured the largest media rights deal in conference and NAIA history, signing a multimillion-dollar deal with Urban Edge Network. Through this partnership, the GCAC garnered nearly 1.5 million views of its championship live broadcasts. For more information visit www.gcaconf.com.
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