Eddie George Tennessee State
Tennessee State

Tennessee State and the potential new-look SWAC

Tennessee State and the SWAC have had preliminary discussions on the HBCU joining the HBCU league. Which could lead to future moves.

The decades-long dance between Tennessee State and the SWAC appears to be on-going.

SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland has reached out to Tennessee State, according to a tweet posted by Dr. Kenyatta Cavil of Inside The HBCU Sports Lab.

“I can confirm, the SWAC Commissioner has reached out to the Tennessee State Athletics Director and thus the proverbial ball is in the Big Blue Tigers’ backcourt,” Cavil tweeted on Wednesday evening.

HBCU Gameday has reached out to Tennessee State and is awaiting a response.

A source tells HBCU Gameday that the discussions between the SWAC and TSU are “first-step” or preliminary at best and have happened within the last week. TSU is currently a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, where it has resided since 1986. Contrary to popular belief it has never been a member of the SWAC.

This news comes a few weeks after Tennessee State head coach Eddie George said the Ohio Valley Conference was a “dying” conference and that TSU had to do what was best for itself. The source tells HBCU Gameday that George has heard out Deion Sanders on the subject of the SWAC and is apparently interested. Other leadership in the athletic department isn’t quite as sold.

Finances could play a role in whether or not TSU decides to make the jump. Leaving the OVC with less than two years’ notice cost Eastern Kentucky $1 million. It is likely that TSU would have to pay that fee. But the source tells HBCU Gameday that the SWAC work with TSU on the potential price tag to join its league should it decide to make that leap.

Should the SWAC add Tennessee State to its current membership, that would make the SWAC a 13-team league, and likely create a need for a 14th school. The source says it’s unlikely it would be a current FCS/Division I member and is more likely to be a school currently in Division II or the NAIA. 

Tennessee State and the potential new-look SWAC
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