HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — When you think of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference you can’t help but think about Hampton University.
The two have been partners for the last 22 years, but next year HU is leaving the MEAC for what it hopes will be greener pastures.
“The timing is right for a new venture,” said Hampton Athletic Director Eugene Marshall.
The new venture will begin next July when Hampton officially joins the Big South Conference.
“Our goal at Hampton is to be the best mid-sized university in the country and I think that the Big South helps us to obtain that,” Marshall added.
The Big South has schools only in Virginia and in both Carolinas. HU officials say this will cut down on athletes traveling and give them more time on campus and in the classroom.
“Being able to stay on campus is going to be a big deal just because of the grades in school,” said Hampton basketball player Akim Mitchell.
“I get to study more and I really get to stay on my academics and that’s really a big thing for me,” added Hampton shot putter Joshua Hunter.
Less travel also means the university will save money. Players say it’s sad to say goodbye to the MEAC, but they’re excited about the future.
“A move to the Big South I feel like that’s a real step forward athletically to better our program,” said Hampton basketball player Pierre Sow.
“Coastal Carolina, Liberty those are all really good teams that we play every year and we always compete against so it’s going to be a fun and exciting conference to play in,” Mitchell added.
HU officials say they hope to keep the rivalries created in the MEAC, such as the yearly Battle of the Bay against Norfolk State.
They tell 10 On Your Side the university will now be playing games on the road closer to the alumni base.
“Like anything else progress is good,” said Hampton men’s basketball coach Edward Joyner. “We think this is a great opportunity for us as a university and as a program to build our brand and to enhance our visibility.”
Most of Hampton’s sports teams will start Big South conference play next July. Since football games are routinely scheduled years in advance, Hampton football most likely won’t join the conference until 2019.