HAMPTON, Va. – Hampton University is leaving the MEAC after 22 years to join the Big South Conference, effective July 1, 2018.
The announcement was made at a joint Hampton University/Big South press conference at Hampton University's Student Center Theater.
"The move to the Big South Conference is just another part of an exciting year at Hampton University," Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey said. "Institutions in the Big South are located in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, which means that our student athletes will spend less time traveling and more time in classes on campus. This keeps the proper focus on academics, which is our chief reason for being. The smaller geographic footprint will also reduce travel expenses. Another important consideration is the large number of alumni located in the Big South region. We have enjoyed our 22-year relationship with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and hope to continue competing against some of its teams."
Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander couldn't be more pleased for the conference and for Hampton University.
"This is a big day for the Big South! We are so pleased that Hampton University is joining the Big South family," Kallander said. "We have always been impressed by Hampton's academics and athletics accomplishments under President Harvey's visionary leadership. We appreciate his interest and support of the Big South and look forward to working with him and the rest of Hampton's leadership to support our student-athletes. The Big South is a better conference with Hampton – athletically, academically, and in providing outstanding opportunities for our student-athletes."
The Big South's president is excited to add Hampton University to the conference.
"On behalf of the entire membership of the Big South Conference -- student/athletes, coaches and presidents, we are pleased and very excited to welcome the community of Hampton University to the conference," said Mary Grant, Big South President and UNC Asheville Chancellor. "Hampton University's rich history and tradition both athletically and academically aligns perfectly with the ideals and core values of the Big South Conference."
The Pirates sponsor 17 sports at the Division I level, 16 of which are sponsored by the Big South: football, men's and women's basketball, women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field, softball, men's and women's golf, and women's volleyball. Only men's lacrosse will not compete in the Big South.
Hampton's athletics history dates back to the mid-1970s and includes memorable NCAA Tournament moments in 2001 when the No. 15-seeded Pirates upset No. 2-seeded Iowa State, as well as in 2014-15 making consecutive NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament appearances. The women's basketball team has won five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships in a row and six in the last eight years.
On the football field, the Pirates have made five FCS Championship postseason appearances, as well as making five trips to post-season play as a NCAA Division II member.
With the addition of Hampton, the Big South Conference will now have four members based in Virginia (Hampton, Liberty, Longwood, Radford), South Carolina (Charleston Southern, Presbyterian College, USC Upstate, Winthrop), and in North Carolina (Campbell, Gardner-Webb, High Point, UNC Asheville). The conference membership will begin exploring different scheduling models and championship formats for the upcoming 2018-19 season.