Hilton Head, SC (Sports Network) - Depleted by conference realignment, the
Southern Conference is expected to grow by three with the addition of East
Tennessee State University, Mercer University and likely the Virginia Military
Institute for the 2014-15 school year.
SoCon commissioner John Iamarino, in an announcement from the conference's
spring meetings Thursday, said ETSU and Mercer have accepted invitations to
join the conference next year, while VMI is expected to formally ratify
joining the conference when its Board of Visitors meets Friday.
The trio of schools would become SoCon members beginning July 1, 2014. The
conference would have 10 members.
"The addition of these three institutions will solidify the Southern
Conference and ensure our position as a vibrant league with a bright future,"
Iamarino said. "We are delighted to invite three quality institutions, two of
which are returning to a home they previously enjoyed for many years.
"Our membership is excited about rekindling old rivalries and establishing new
ones. Most importantly, we've been able to grow while not extending our
geographic footprint to an extreme extent."
ETSU, located in Johnson City, Tenn., was a SoCon member from 1978-2005 before
it joined the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Buccaneers have 17 sports programs
and will restart the football team, which was dropped in 2003, in time for the
Mercer, in Macon, Ga., is the last charter member of the Atlantic Sun and will
add football this year in the non-scholarship Pioneer League, but will go to
scholarships to join the SoCon. When it becomes a SoCon member, Mercer will
have 18 sports programs.
VMI, the nation's first state-supported military college and located in
Lexington, Va., was a SoCon member from 1924-2003 before departing for the Big
South Conference. It has 18 sports programs, including football.
The SoCon is in transition. It is losing the College of Charleston to the
Colonial Athletic Association later this year; Appalachian State and Georgia
Southern, both FCS powers, to the Sun Belt Conference next year; and Davidson
to the Atlantic 10 next year as well.
The SoCon's membership for the 2014-15 academic year will be as follows: The
Citadel, East Tennessee State, Furman, Mercer, North Carolina-Greensboro,
Samford, Chattanooga, VMI, Western Carolina and Wofford. UNG does not have a
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