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CIAA and Chowan usher in New Era in College Athletics

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July 1, 2009

HAMPTON, VA – After playing one season as a football-only member of the country’s oldest historically black athletic league, Chowan University and ten of its athletic programs enter the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association as a full member today. The announcement signifies a new era in college athletics as Chowan is the first-ever non-HBCU to play as a member of the CIAA.

“Chowan University’s history contains many firsts,” stated Dennis Helsel, Director of Athletics at Chowan. “This is another example that was created by visionary conference and University leaders.”

Chowan HawkChowan University and ten of their total twelve athletic programs are set to embark on a new playing season in 2009-10, committing to a vision that both the CIAA and Chowan University are happy to see into fruition.

“Today I am very excited to embark on this visionary journey with Chowan to further the expansion of this great conference,” stated CIAA Commissioner Leon G. Kerry. “From a competitive stand point, Chowan offers a natural rivalry for our existing institutions.”

Sharing the same sentiments as Commissioner Kerry, Chowan University President, Dr. Chris White, is equally as excited. Kerry and White envisioned a plan well over a year ago and worked together to help create a path in which it would succeed.

“The marriage of Chowan University to the CIAA holds historical significance that we all are proud of,” stated White. “Equally as important is the opportunity afforded to our student-athletes and coaches to compete in a conference and potentially gain recognition for their successes on their respective fields of play.”

The Hawks will play in the Western Division of the CIAA which includes Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone University, Saint Augustine’s College, and Shaw University. The league has a total of 12 member institutions with six schools also in the Eastern Division. They include Bowie State University, Elizabeth City State University, Lincoln University (PA), Saint Paul’s College, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University.

“Today is an historic day for Chowan University. After playing as a football-only member last year we created some friendly rivalries with existing CIAA institutions. I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest of our athletic teams in competition in the CIAA in 2009-10,” stated White.

In an effort to comply with CIAA sport requirements, Chowan announced in February the addition of a women’s bowling program that will compete in the league this winter. With a new coach already in place, the team will begin practice in it’s inaugural season in October of this year.

In the coming years Chowan will be required to revamp their men’s and women’s cross country teams, raising their number of teams competing in the CIAA to twelve.

“Chowan is excited to add sports to the existing program. It defines our commitment to the CIAA and to athletics as well as the growth of Chowan University,” said Helsel.

Chowan is located in Northeast North Carolina, with close proximity to the greater Tidewater area of Virginia. This location has been and continues to be a stomping ground for CIAA past and present. Chowan will no doubt offer great rivalries to intuitions in this area as well as across the CIAA.

The Hawks will begin competition as a full-member in August of this year with volleyball and football. They will compete in women’s bowling and men’s and women’s basketball in the winter season and baseball, golf, softball, and men’s and women’s tennis in the spring season.


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