Three weeks after its rival jumped ship, Bethune-Cookman University is now ready to sail west and join the SWAC.
The Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees voted on Thursday to leave the MEAC and join the SWAC, the University announced,
BCU would leave the MEAC on June 30, 2021— the same day North Carolina A&T and FAMU will check out— and join the SWAC the following day.
“Bethune-Cookman’s move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference is one that is clearly in the best interest of the University, particularly during this major shift in higher education and intercollegiate athletics,” said President Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite. “We believe this is a logical next step in the evolution of our University. Moreover, it reflects our commitment to strengthening the University’s long-term competitiveness and viability, while providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes.
SWAC goes to twelve
This move will give the SWAC 12 teams, which allows it the opportunity to maintain divisional play in all sports.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome Bethune-Cookman University to the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland. “The Wildcats undoubtedly align with our core principles and strategic plan; and they also align with our overall vision and forward movement within our strategic plan. The addition also brings to our league an institution with academic prowess, a world-renowned marching band, along with an enthusiastic base of alumni, fans, and supporters.
The MEAC, meanwhile, will be down to just six football schools, provided that no other MEAC school decides to announce a move prior to July 1. Delaware State University, the conference’s northern-most member, has been discussing changing conferences for multiple months, per Board of Trustee notes made available by the school.
BCU currently sponsors 17 sports, only Alabama State currently carries more in the SWAC. And its most recently reported athletic budget of $15.1 million would be just behind ASU as well.
Bethune-Cookman joined the MEAC in 1979 as a part of the conference’s first expansion along with FAMU. Both schools left the SIAC at that time. Now it appears that Florida’s two largest HBCUs will be running buddies once more.
The move also adds another big feather in the SWAC’s cap in terms of big “classic games.” The Florida Classic between BCU and FAMU will join the Bayou Classic and the Magic City Classic as conference games.