Hampton to leave MEAC, join Big South Conference

(WAVY Photo)

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — After 22 years, Hampton University is leaving the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and will join the Big South Conference, effective July 1, 2018.

The move includes 16 Division I level programs including 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, softball, men’s and women’s golf and women’s volleyball.

Only men’s lacrosse will not compete in the Big South.

WATCH: Hampton University announces that it is leaving the MEAC and joining the Big South Conference. App users can watch at this link.

“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 in a statement released by the university.

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.”

Hampton will join three other Virginia schools in the Big South: Liberty, Longwood and Radford.

Eugene Marshall, Jr., director of athletics at Hampton University, speaks at a news conference Nov. 16, 2017. The university announced it would be leaving the MEAC to join the Big South Conference. (WAVY Photo).

The Pirates are the latest addition to the conference, following the recently announced affiliation of USC Upstate. Longwood joined the conference in 2012.

Mary Grant, president of the Big South, said, “Hampton’s rich history and tradition both athletically and academically aligns perfectly with the ideals and core values of the Big South Conference.”

Eugene Marshall, Jr., Hampton’s director of athletics, said joining the conference will reduce costs and allow the school to better manage class time.

“It will also give a chance to stay within the Virginia, north and South Carolina borders, where have a strong fanbase,” Marshall said.

There will now be four Big South teams in Virginia as well as South Carolina (Charleston Southern, Presbyterian College, USC Upstate, Winthrop) and 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.