A day after USC Upstate made a move to the Big South, the conference announced it is adding Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member Hampton University.
Hampton will be a full member effective with the 2018-19 academic year. Hampton’s membership begins July 1, 2018, and increases the Big South membership to 12 next fall with the addition of USC Upstate.
The Pirates 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, 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 will be immediately eligible for conference championships, while its football program will officially start its Big South association no later than 2019.
“The move to the Big South Conference is just another part of an exciting year at Hampton University,” said Hampton President Dr. William R. Harvey. “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.”
With the addition of Hampton, the Big South Conference will now have four members based in Virginia (Hampton, Liberty, Longwood, Radford), four in South Carolina (Charleston Southern, Presbyterian College, USC Upstate, Winthrop), as well as four based in North Carolina (Campbell, Gardner-Webb, High Point, UNC Asheville). The conference will begin exploring impacts of the recent membership expansion on scheduling and championship formats for the upcoming 2018-19 season.
Hampton has been a MEAC member for 22 years.