Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
CommissionerKiki Baker-Barnes
Sports fielded
  • 8
    • men's: 4
    • women's: 4
No. of teams10 (13 in 2024)
RegionSoutheastern United States, Texas, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Location of teams in (({title))}

The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) is a college athletic conference made up entirely of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that's affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Member institutions are located in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas as well as the U.S. territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (Continental U.S.)
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Philander Smith
Location of GCAC members: full member, future member
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (U.S. Virgin Islands)
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Virgin Islands
Location of GCAC members: full member

The GCAC was established in 1981, with the following charter institutions: Belhaven University, Dillard University, Louisiana College (now Louisiana Christian University), Spring Hill College, Tougaloo College, William Carey University, and Xavier University of Louisiana. The first sports were men and women's basketball and men's tennis, with other sports soon following.[1]

The University of Mobile was admitted in October 1985, Southern University at New Orleans was granted admission in May 1986, Loyola University was admitted in April 1995, and Louisiana State University in Shreveport became a member in April 2000. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina forced Dillard and Xavier (Louisiana) to cancel all athletic competition for the 2005–06 season and Loyola and Southern–New Orleans were able only to compete partially. All schools returned to competition in 2006–07, although in most cases with a reduced number of sports.

Louisiana College left the GCAC to join the American Southwest Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III in 2000. Belhaven also left in 2000, only to re-join in 2002; while Talladega College, which joined in 1999, left in 2002. In 2010, Belhaven, Loyola–New Orleans, Spring Hill, Mobile, and William Carey left the GCAC to join the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC).[2] In 2010 LSU–Shreveport left the conference to join the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). Edward Waters College (now a university) and Fisk University joined to replace the departed schools in 2010. Philander Smith College also joined the GCAC in 2011. Talladega College re-joined the conference starting in the 2011–12 academic year. Talladega had been a member of the GCAC from 1999–2000 to 2001–02.[3]

On April 17, 2018, it was announced that Rust College had joined the GCAC in the 2018–19 season.[4]

In 2019, Steve Martin resigned from the conference after 5 years to become commissioner of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges[5]

In 2019, Southern University at New Orleans suspended its sports program.[6]

On September 14, 2020, it was also announced that Xavier (La.) would leave the GCAC for the RRAC[7] and on December 18, Talladega was accepted by the SSAC as a new member.[8] Both departures became effective after the 2020–21 season concluded, coinciding with Fisk's return to the GCAC as published on March 16, 2021.[9] On July 19, it was reported that Edward Waters would leave the GCAC to join NCAA Division II for the first time in its history and re-join the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference the 2021–22 season.[10]

In October 2021, Southern at New Orleans began to offer sports again after adding a student fee to fund them.[11] On January 20, 2022, the GCAC extended its membership to Oakwood University and Wiley College, the conference's first Texas member, in addition to the returning Southern at New Orleans. Oakwood and Wiley joined the conference later in July.[12] On November 3, the GCAC invited the University of the Virgin Islands to become its member in 2023–24, becoming the first four-year institution in a U.S. territory to join an athletic conference affiliated with the NAIA or NCAA in more than a century.[13]

On February 29, 2024, the conference announced that it would rebrand as the HBCU Athletic Conference (HBCUAC), effective on July 1.[14]

Chronological timeline

Member schools

Current members

The GCAC currently has ten full members; all but two are private schools:

Institution Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment Nickname Joined[a]
Dillard University New Orleans, Louisiana 1869 United Methodist &
United Church of Christ
900 Bleu Devils &
Lady Bleu Devils
Fisk University Nashville, Tennessee 1866 United Church of Christ 910 Bulldogs 2010;
Oakwood University Huntsville, Alabama 1896 Seventh-day Adventist 1,400 Ambassadors 2022
Philander Smith University[c] Little Rock, Arkansas 1864 United Methodist 700 Panthers 2011
Rust College Holly Springs, Mississippi 1866 United Methodist 900 Bearcats 2018
Southern University at New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana 1956 Public 2,715 Knights &
Lady Knights
Talladega College Talladega, Alabama 1867 United Church of Christ 1,337 Tornadoes 1999;
Tougaloo College Tougaloo, Mississippi 1869 United Church of Christ &
Disciples of Christ
900 Bulldogs 1981
University of the Virgin Islands Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands 1962 Public 2,392 Buccaneers 2023
Wiley University[f] Marshall, Texas 1873 United Methodist 1,250 Wildcats 2022
  1. ^ Represents the calendar year when fall sports competition begins.
  2. ^ Fisk left the GCAC after the 2013–14 school year; before rejoining in the 2021–22 school year.
  3. ^ Formerly known as Philander Smith College until 2023.
  4. ^ Southern–New Orleans (SUNO) suspended its athletic program after the 2018–19 school year; and rejoined the GCAC in the 2022–23 school year.
  5. ^ Tallaedga left the GCAC after the 2001–02 school year; then rejoined from 2011–12 to 2020–21; before rejoining in the 2023–24 school year.
  6. ^ Formerly known as Wiley College until 2023.

Future members

The GCAC will have three future full members, all will be private schools:[15][16][17]

Institution Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment Nickname Joining[a] Primary
Stillman College Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1876 Presbyterian
1,000 Tigers 2024 Southern States (SSAC)
Voorhees University Denmark, South Carolina 1897 Episcopal 600 Tigers 2024[b] Continental
Wilberforce University Wilberforce, Ohio 1856 A.M.E. Church 900 Bulldogs 2024 Continental
  1. ^ Represents the calendar year when fall sports competition begins.
  2. ^ Voorhees was a full member of the GCAC from 2013–14 to 2014–15.

Former members

The GCAC had 10 former full members, all but two were private schools:

Institution Location Founded Afiliation Enrollment Nickname Joined[a] Left[b] Subsequent
Belhaven University[c] Jackson, Mississippi 1883 Evangelical
3,245 Blazers 1981;
various[e] C.C. of the South (CCS)[d]
Edward Waters College[f] Jacksonville, Florida 1866 A.M.E. Church 966 Tigers 2010 2021[g] Southern (SIAC)[h]
Louisiana College[i] Pineville, Louisiana 1906 Baptist 1,200 Wildcats 1981 2000 American Southwest[d]
Red River (RRAC)
Louisiana State University at Shreveport Shreveport, Louisiana 1967 Public 4,200 Pilots 2000[j] 2010 Red River (RRAC)
Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana 1904 Catholic
4,858 Wolf Pack 1995 2010 Southern States (SSAC)
University of Mobile Mobile, Alabama 1961 Baptist 1,577 Rams 1985 2010 Southern States (SSAC)
Spring Hill College Mobile, Alabama 1830 Catholic
1,439 Badgers 1981 2010 Southern States (SSAC)
Southern (SIAC)[h]
Voorhees College[k] Denmark, South Carolina 1897 Episcopal 600 Tigers 2013 2015 Continental
William Carey University Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1906 Baptist 3,250 Crusaders 1981 2010 Southern States (SSAC)
Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans, Louisiana 1925 Catholic
3,200 Gold Rush &
Gold Nuggets
1981 2021 Red River (RRAC)
  1. ^ Represents the calendar year when fall sports competition begins.
  2. ^ Represents the calendar year when spring sports competition ends.
  3. ^ Formerly known as Belhaven College until 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Currently an NCAA Division III athletic conference.
  5. ^ Belhaven had joined the following subsequent conferences: as an NAIA Independent from 2000–01 to 2001–02; the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) from 2010–11 to 2014–15; and the American Southwest Conference[d] from 2015–16 to 2021–22.
  6. ^ Currently known as Edward Waters University since 2021.
  7. ^ Edward Waters remained in the GCAC to compete in conference tournaments for all sponsored sports during the provisional transition until after the 2021–22 school year.
  8. ^ a b Currently an NCAA Division II athletic conference.
  9. ^ Currently known as Louisiana Christian University since November 2021.
  10. ^ The LSU–Shreveport men's and women's basketball teams joined the GCAC three years after becoming a full member for other sports (2003–04).
  11. ^ Currently known as Voorhees University since 2022.

Membership timeline

Wilberforce UniversityStillman CollegeUniversity of the Virgin IslandsWiley UniversityOakwood UniversityRust CollegeNAIA independent schoolsVoorhees UniversityPhilander Smith UniversityNAIA independent schoolsFisk UniversitySouthern Intercollegiate Athletic ConferenceEdward Waters UniversityRed River Athletic ConferenceLouisiana State University ShreveportSouthern States Athletic ConferenceNAIA independent schoolsTalladega CollegeSouthern States Athletic ConferenceLoyola University New OrleansSouthern University at New OrleansSouthern States Athletic ConferenceUniversity of MobileRed River Athletic ConferenceXavier University of LouisianaSouthern States Athletic ConferenceWilliam Carey UniversityTougaloo CollegeSouthern Intercollegiate Athletic ConferenceSouthern States Athletic ConferenceSpring Hill CollegeRed River Athletic ConferenceAmerican Southwest ConferenceLouisiana Christian UniversityDillard UniversityCollegiate Conference of the SouthAmerican Southwest ConferenceSouthern States Athletic ConferenceNAIA independent schoolsBelhaven University

 Full member (non-football)   Associate member (sport) 

Conference sports

Old logo
Conference sports
Sport Men's Women's
Baseball Green tickY
Basketball Green tickY Green tickY
Cross Country Green tickY Green tickY
Track & Field Outdoor Green tickY Green tickY
Volleyball Green tickY

Conference champions


Year Regular season champion Tournament champion
2015 Edward Waters College Talladega College
2014 Talladega College Talladega College
2013 N/A N/A
2012 N/A N/A
2011 N/A N/A
2010 Belhaven College Louisiana State University Shreveport
2009 William Carey University Belhaven College
2008 University of Mobile cancelled
2007 Belhaven College Louisiana State University Shreveport
2006 Belhaven College Louisiana State University Shreveport
2005 Louisiana State University Shreveport William Carey University
2004 William Carey University Belhaven College
2003 William Carey University none
2002 Loyola University New Orleans none
2001 Spring Hill College none
2000 Spring Hill College none
1999 University of Mobile none
1998 University of Mobile none
1997 Spring Hill College none
1996 William Carey University none
1995 William Carey University none
1994 Belhaven College none
1993 William Carey University none
1992 William Carey University none
1991 William Carey University none
1990 William Carey University none
1989 William Carey University none
1988 William Carey University none
1987 Louisiana College none
1986 William Carey University none
1985 Spring Hill College none
1984 William Carey University none
1983 William Carey University
Spring Hill College
1982 William Carey University none


  1. ^ "Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Directory 1981–1982" (PDF). p. 2.
  2. ^ "SSAC To Expand And Restructure Conference In 2010-11". September 29, 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  3. ^ "Talladega College join the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference". Talladega College Tornadoes. January 9, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "Great 8: GCAC Welcomes Rust College As Newest Member". Victory Sports Network. April 17, 2018. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  5. ^ "GCAC's Steve Martin named commissioner of Mississippi Junior College system". Crescent City Sports. March 11, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  6. ^ "SUNO to suspend athletic programs months after it was placed on probation over financial problems". December 19, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  7. ^ "Xavier University of Louisiana to become RRAC's 13th member institution in 2021-22". Red River Athletic Conference. September 14, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "Talladega College to join NAIA's Southern States Conference in 2021-22". Talladega College Tornadoes. December 18, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  9. ^ "GCAC To Welcome Fisk University Back To Conference In Fall 2021". Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. March 16, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  10. ^ "Edward Waters University Returns as SIAC Member Institution". Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. July 19, 2021.
  11. ^ Canicosa, JC (October 22, 2021). "At a cost to their students, SUNO's athletics program will return next year". Louisiana Illuminator. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  12. ^ "GCAC Extends Membership To Oakwood University, Wiley College, Southern University at New Orleans". January 20, 2022. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  13. ^ "UVI Joins NAIA's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference". University of the Virgin Islands. November 3, 2022. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  14. ^ Mosley, Kyle (February 29, 2024). "The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) Rebrands To The HBCU Athletic Conference (HBCUAC) And Signs Partnership With HOPE Credit Union". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  15. ^ Wilberforce University Slated to Join Gulf Coast Athletic Conference in 2024 - Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC)
  16. ^ Voorhees University Making Move to Gulf Coast Athletic Conference in 2024 - Voorhees University
  17. ^ Stillman College to become 13th member of Gulf Coast Athletic Conference - Stillman College