Hampton University’s longtime president, William R. Harvey, has been known to blaze new trails at the institution he has helmed for more than four decades.
It appears Harvey is at it again.
In a release from the school Monday afternoon, Hampton said it will hold a 1 p.m. Tuesday press conference for a “major athletic department announcement.” Multiple sources have confirmed that the Pirates will be unveiling a move from the Big South Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The switch will become effective in July, those sources say.
Attempts to reach Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander on Monday for confirmation of the move were unsuccessful.
Not Hampton’s first move
Harvey pulled Hampton – one of the original founders in 1912 of the oldest HBCU conference, the NCAA Div. II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – out of the CIAA in 1995 to move up to NCAA Div. I status. At the time, Pirate officials reportedly said landing in the Colonial was a “natural progression.” Hampton however eventually settled for inclusion in another HBCU conference, the Div. I Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
CIAA member Norfolk State followed Hampton into the MEAC one year later.
The Pirates competed in the MEAC until 2018 when it made a jump to the Big South. Hampton officials cited the extensive travel and loss of class time to navigate the MEAC’s footprint that stretched from Delaware to Florida as the reason for the switch. While the move was surprising to some, MEAC officials said at the time Harvey had openly discussed his intention to leave. Even then, there was much speculation that the CAA was the desired landing spot for the Pirates.
Former MEAC member NC A&T followed Hampton into the Big South in 2020. Attempts to contact NC A&T Athletics Director Earl Hilton for comments Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Now, with Harvey, the longest current serving HBCU president, set to retire in July after 42 years leading the institution, he appears to have gotten his wish. Harvey is also tied with Regent University’s Pat Robertson at seventh in longevity among all currently serving U.S. college presidents.
Not an HBCU?
Harvey told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2000 that he does not bill Hampton as “a historically black institution.” Rather, he said, “I’ve wanted to appeal to people who could give us a lot of money, and who could appreciate quality and efficiency.” He said at some point it gets old to talk about “gult money.”
“So I’ve never used that,” he said.
The make-up of Hampton’s new digs
The CAA, based in Richmond, Va., recently lost conference power James Madison, which is bolting to the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference. Hampton is one of three programs, two from the Big South, that are targets to join the CAA. There have also been reports that MEAC member Howard has had discussions with the CAA.
Published reports indicate that Monmouth (Long Branch, N. J.), a Big South member for football, will also be announcing a move to become a full CAA member. Stony Brook (Long Island, N.Y.), which competes in football in the CAA, is also said to be set to become a full-time member of the conference. Monmouth currently plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) for all other sports. Stony Brook plays its other sports in the America East Conference.
It’s not clear whether loss of class time or extensive travel are at the root Hampton’s current move.
Hampton will bring the CAA to 12 football-playing members including Albany, Delaware, Elon, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Richmond, Stony Brook, Towson, Villanova and William & Mary. CAA members for all other sports are College of Charleston, Delaware, Drexel, Elon, Hofstra, Northeastern, Towson, UNC Wilmington and William & Mary.