By Marty Gordon
The Big South Conference announced Friday the University of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) will be a full member of the conference effective with the 2021-22 academic year, increasing the league’s membership to 12.
“North Carolina A&T is a perfect fit for the Big South — its location, its proud history and academic reputation, its loyal base of alumni and other supporters, and its commitment to excellence,” said W. Taylor Reveley IV, President of Longwood University and the Big South Conference. “At a time of real flux and dispersion in college athletics, the Big South is strengthening its identity across our home region of Virginia and the Carolinas. Today’s announcement will nurture new and existing rivalries that will benefit fans and student-athletes. And it brings into our family another great institution while making all of our member institutions stronger, too.”
The Aggies sponsor 17 varsity sports at the Division I level, 16 of which are sponsored by the Big South: football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf and women’s volleyball. Only women’s bowling will not compete in the Big South. North Carolina A&T will be immediately eligible for conference championships upon entry in 2021.
“We have been looking carefully at our opportunities in athletics for five years and more intensively over the past year,” said North Carolina A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “We’re pleased to have brought that process to fruition and excited to be ushering in a new alliance with the Big South. This move makes great sense for our student-athletes, for our fans and for our bottom line. We will always have a place in our hearts for the MEAC, and we look forward to what the new conference will make possible for the Aggies.”
With the addition of North Carolina A&T, the Big South Conference will now have five members based in North Carolina (Campbell, Gardner-Webb, High Point, North Carolina A&T, UNC Asheville), four in South Carolina (Charleston Southern, Presbyterian College, USC Upstate, Winthrop) and three based in Virginia (Hampton, Longwood, Radford). The conference will begin exploring adjustments to future scheduling and championship formats with North Carolina A&T’s addition in the 2021-22 academic year.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is the nation’s largest historically black university, ranked number one among public HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report. It is a land-grant, higher-research classified university by the Carnegie Foundation and a constituent member of the University of North Carolina system. A&T is known for its leadership in producing graduates in engineering, agriculture and other STEM fields. The university was founded in 1891 and is located in Greensboro, N.C.
The Big South, which was originally founded in 1983, is currently comprised of 11 full-member institutions: Campbell University, Charleston Southern University, Gardner-Webb University, Hampton University, High Point University, Longwood University, Presbyterian College, Radford University, UNC Asheville, USC Upstate and Winthrop University, plus football members Kennesaw State University, Monmouth University and the University of North Alabama.