TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) will add Florida A&M University as a full member effective with the 2021-22 academic year. The unanimous decision was reached during a special executive session meeting of the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
“Florida A&M University is a great fit for the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said Dr. Andrew Hugine, President of Alabama A&M University and Chairman of the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors. “FAMU’s strong athletics history, academic mission, along with its location within our natural geographical footprint made this a perfect unification for Florida A&M University and the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”
“FAMU boast a strong loyal base of alumni, fans, and supporters and they have shown a collective commitment to excellence in all facets,” added Hugine. “We welcome the Rattlers to the SWAC and look forward to many years of high-level competition with them as a member of our conference.”
“While we have had a long-standing relationship competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Florida A&M’s impending move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference is one that is in the best interest of the University,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “The positive impacts on student athletes, cost savings, re-establishment of long-term rivalries and opportunities to generate revenue are among the key factors in this decision.”
“The addition of FAMU brings to our league an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) that shares the same common mission, goals and principles of our current league make-up,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.
“This alliance undoubtedly makes all of our institutions stronger,” added McClelland. “Many of our member institutions have enjoyed long standing history of competition against Florida A&M in several sports; most notably football. The new rivalries that will be forged significantly enhances our conference’s brand in all phases and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome all of Rattler Nation to the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”
The Rattlers sponsor 14 varsity sports at the Division I level, with all 14 of those sports sponsored by the Southwestern Athletic Conference: 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 track & field, baseball, softball, men’s golf, women’s volleyball and women’s bowling.
Florida A&M’s athletics history dates back to 1907 as an independent member. FAMU remained independent until 1925 and joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) from 1926-1978. The university left the SIAC for the MEAC in 1979, but only stayed in the conference until 1983. FAMU became an NCAA Division I Independent from 1984-1985, before rejoining the MEAC in 1986.
During the rich athletic tradition of the university, FAMU has won 15 Black College Football National Championships, including last year. Florida A&M also holds the distinction of the being the first and only HBCU to win the FCS National Championship (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) in 1978. On the hardwood, FAMU men’s basketball has won four conference championships and made three NCAA National Tournament Appearances, the last being in 2007.
Florida A&M is the alma mater for many notable athletic alumni, such as former Major League Baseball great Vince Coleman, MLB Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, tennis legend Alethea Gibson, Olympic Gold Medalist “Bullet” Bob Hayes, former MLB player and manager Hal McRae, former NFL and Super Bowl winner Nate Newton and former NFL player Ken Riley.
With the addition of Florida A&M, the Southwestern Athletic Conference will now have three members based in Mississippi (Alcorn State, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State), two in Alabama (Alabama A&M, Alabama State), two in Louisiana (Grambling State, Southern), two in Texas (Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern), one in Arkansas (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), and one in Florida (Florida A&M). The league will begin exploring adjustments to future scheduling and championship formats with Florida A&M’s addition in the 2021-22 academic year.