Saturday, February 8, 2020

North Carolina A&T Joins Big South Starting in 2021

GREENSBORO – The Big South Conference has added North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University as a full member effective with the 2021-22 academic year, it was announced this morning at a press conference on N.C. A&T’s campus.  North Carolina A&T’s affiliation begins July 1, 2021 and increases the Big South 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,” stated 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.”

North Carolina A&T’s athletics history dates back to 1924 and includes achievements such as winning seven straight men's basketball conference tournaments from 1982-88, having one of the best track and field programs in the nation -- highlighted by Kayla White winning the 2019 NCAA Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Championship in the 200 meters, along with five FCS Championship postseason appearances, 55 MEAC championships, and four Celebration Bowl wins in five years.

N.C. A&T is alma mater for many notable athletic alumni, such as Chicago Bears Pro Bowler Tarik Cohen, NFL Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Al Attles, College Baseball Hall of Famer Al Holland, world-class sprinter Chris Belcher, Buffalo Bills defensive end Darryl Johnson and Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Brandon Parker.  Additional notable North Carolina A&T alumni include Astronaut Ronald McNair, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson Sr. and actor Terrence J.

“The Big South Conference is thrilled to welcome North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University as its 12th member,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander.  “In its progressive approach to membership expansion, the Big South looks for institutions that will be value-added, and that will enhance its student-athletes’ opportunities and success.  From its outstanding academic profile, to its proud history, to its impressive athletic achievements, North Carolina A&T does just that.  This significant addition makes us all better.  It is a great day for the Big South Conference!”

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), as well as 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.