Courtesy: NC A&T and Big South
EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 18, 2022) – The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (NC A&T) State University Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously approved a recommendation that the university join the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), perhaps the most prominent athletics conference in the nation among Football Championship Series (FCS) institutions.
In making the presentation that prompted the vote, Athletics Director Earl Hilton offered a
compelling case that the CAA represents where North Carolina A&T stands, academically and
athletically, as a highly competitive doctoral research university. “We are pleased to be joining
a conference of similarly focused institutions,” said BOT Chairwoman Hilda Pinnix-Ragland.
All board members voted “yes” in a formal, voice tally, after having received Thursday’s 8-0
vote of support from the Executive Committee and a 20-slide presentation from Hilton.
All North Carolina A&T sports teams and student-athletes will begin competing in the CAA as of July 1, 2022, except football and bowling. Football will move July 1, 2023, to avoid impact on
the Big South Conference’s automatic qualifier status for participation in the FCS post-season
playoffs. Bowling, which never left the Mid-Eastern Athletics Conference (MEAC), will maintain
“What a historical week for A&T,” exclaimed Pinnix-Ragland, referencing not just to the
conference change, but also the grand opening Thursday of the $100-million Harold L. Martin
Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex and multiple reports of major institutional
progress at Friday’s meeting. “Based on what we saw today, it’s not going to stop. …We’re in
for a great ride.”
Despite the geographic diversity of conference members, the new affiliation promises to
enhance student-athlete welfare and keep financial costs low through North and South
divisions. A&T’s competition will largely be limited to South Division campuses, all of which are
located in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia (in football, Maryland-based Towson
University will also compete in the South Division).
The CAA also benefits from the location of multiple member campuses in national media
markets, such as Boston and Philadelphia.
CAA opened a dialogue with A&T in November 2021 and subsequently extended an invitation
to join. A&T informed the CAA and the Big South that it would evaluate the invitation “in a
deliberate and data-driven manner.”
Over the past two months, that evaluation has taken place through an exhaustive compilation
of data, interviews with students, athletics staff, alumni, boosters and Hall of Fame members
and additional fact-finding. Support among A&T athletics constituents for the move was strong.
Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander issued the following statement on the move.
“While losing members anytime is disappointing, we understand these are institutional business decisions that aren’t necessarily driven by athletics. The Big South Conference is a strong and stable league that will continue to provide opportunities for national athletics success for its student-athletes and teams. Whenever membership changes, someone always rises to the occasion, and this time will be no different.
The Big South is committed to providing a home for its football members and we are confident we will be successful in that effort. We want to express our particular appreciation to North Carolina A&T State University for the professional manner in which it is handling its transition by committing to Big South football for the 2022 season.”