North Carolina A&T would give Hampton University some HBCU company in the Big South Conference
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
The Greensboro News and Record reports that North Carolina A&T, a historically black university, will announce on Friday that they are leaving the MEAC for the Big South Conference.
“The move is pending approval of A&T’s board of trustees, which meets Friday morning. If that approval happens, A&T plans to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday to formally announce the change of leagues, according to a source inside the university who spoke on condition of anonymity.”
According to the report all athletic teams for North Carolina A&T would move to the Big South effective July 1, 2021, with the exception of their bowling team which would stay in the MEAC. When Hampton moved from the MEAC, they were essentially disowned by the members of the MEAC. All football games against MEAC schools were dropped, forcing Hampton to find opponents and schedule independently in 2018.
All of the teams in the Big South are in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. That would allow the school to reduce travel expenses. The MEAC has schools as far north as Delaware (Delaware State) and as far south as Florida (Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman).
This move would also give HBCU Hampton University some familiar company in the Big South. The Pirates announced their move to the Big South in 2017 and have now fully integrated their athletic programs into the Big South Conference.
The addition of NC A&T would bring the Big South to 12 members. The conference’s football champion is an automatic qualifier for the FCS playoffs. Monmouth, Kennesaw State and North Alabama are affiliate members for football only. NC A&T would give the conference eight football members since Presbyterian is departing for the non-scholarship Pioneer League.
North Carolina A&T will leave behind their legacy of Celebration Bowl championships. The Celebration Bowl is a de facto national championship for HBCU football, pitting the MEAC champion against the SWAC champion. NC A&T has won four of the past five Celebration Bowl games and they’ve won the game for each of the past three years.
For football, NC A&T will compete against Campbell, Monmouth, Kennesaw State, Charleston Southern, Gardner Webb, Hampton and North Alabama. The Hampton Pirates were 1-5 in conference and 5-7 overall in their first season of conference play last fall.
– Andy Hilton