The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference announced Thursday that its Council of Presidents voted unanimously to extend membership to Stillman College beginning next July.

GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes added that Visit Tuscaloosa was awarded the bid to host the 2024 Hope Credit Union Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, which will be held at Stillman’s Birthright Alumni Hall from February 28 to March 3, 2024.

“This is an exciting week for the GCAC,” said Baker Barnes. “Expanding our conference has been at the forefront of our organization’s goals, and adding Stillman is a major step forward for us. We are grateful for President Page and Athletic Director Whittle for leading the charge to join our conference.”

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(Cary Clark)
(Cary Clark)

Founded in 1981 the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference is the only conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) comprised solely of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“Stillman College is pleased to join the NAIA’s only HBCU conference. Not only do we look forward to the friendly rivalries, but we also look forward to forging relationships with the other GCAC member institutions that will extend beyond competitive sports,” said Dr. Yolanda Page, the president of Stillman. “I hope that academic partnerships will be among the benefits of our membership.”

Stillman College’s move to the GCAC is a return to an HBCU conference after previously competing off-and-on in the NCAA’s historically black Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) from 1978-2016.

Stillman Director of Athletics Terrance Whittle said the Tigers are excited to join the GCAC as its newest member.

“The move marks a historical moment in the life of Stillman College as we are glad to be joining the only HBCU conference in the NAIA," he noted. " We believe our athletics footprint, geographical location, institutional values, academic standards, and historical lineage align with the GCAC standards.

"We look forward to Stillman’s championship programs reigniting past conference rivalries and creating new rivalries. We want to thank the Council of Presidents and Commissioner Dr. Baker Barnes for the opportunity to join this historical conference as we continue to uplift and educate our communities and our students.”

The move to the GCAC marks a return to conference rivalries for the Tigers, with familiar faces such as Rust College, Fisk University, Dillard University, Philander Smith College, Talladega College and Tougaloo College returning to the Tigers' schedules.

There is more good news. With the entry into the GCAC comes great fanfare as Stillman College has been selected as the host site of the GCAC 2024 Hope Credit Union Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships in early 2024. The tournament is a collaboration between the college and Visit Tuscaloosa, the local tourism destination marketing organization.

“We are excited for Stillman College, as well as our executive director of sports, Stan Adams, on the announcement of the 2024 GCAC Basketball Championships,” said Kelsey Rush, president and CEO of Visit Tuscaloosa. “Together, they successfully demonstrated why Tuscaloosa is a premier location for this tournament and we hope it is the beginning of a long-standing relationship. We look forward to welcoming players and fans to our community as we deliver an elite-level tournament experience.”

Rush estimates the economic impact on the Tuscaloosa community to be around $750,000.

Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (10/2 - 10/9)

12 of the Top Stories published by the Tuscaloosa Thread during the week of October 2nd, 2023)

Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)



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