SWAC Officially Welcomes Bethune- Cookman and Florida A&M As New Members
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is excited to officially welcome the additions of Bethune-Cookman University and Florida A&M University as full members of the league on July 1, 2021.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Bethune-Cookman University and Florida A&M University as official members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.
“The additions of these two historic institutions of higher learning undoubtedly makes all of our institutions stronger,” added McClelland. “A significant number of SWAC member institutions have enjoyed long standing history of competition against both universities in several sports; most notably football.”
“We feel 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 Wildcat Nation and Rattler Nation to the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”
Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M both join the SWAC following many years as members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
B-CU joined the MEAC in 1979 while FAMU had three different periods as MEAC members. The Rattlers also joined the conference in 1979 but left in 1984. They rejoined in 1986 but left again in 2003. FAMU’s final stint as part of the MEAC family lasted from 2005-2021.
Bethune-Cookman offers 36 undergraduate and 8 graduate degrees on its main campus. Located in Daytona Beach, FL B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 3,000.
The Wildcats sponsor 17 varsity sports at the Division I level, with all 17 of those sports sponsored by the SWAC: 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 and women’s golf, women’s volleyball and women’s bowling.
Florida A&M enrolls nearly 10,000 students hailing from across the United States and more than 70 countries, including several African countries, the Bahamas, Brazil, Indonesia, China, and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few. The student body includes representatives from all ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds.
The Rattlers sponsor 14 varsity sports at the Division I level, with all 14 of those sports sponsored by the SWAC: 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.
With the additions of Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M, the Southwestern Athletic Conference now has 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 two in Florida (Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman).
North Carolina A&T State University Becomes Official
Big South Members
July 1 officially marked the first official day of Big South Conference membership for North Carolina A&T State University. The addition of A&T increases the conference to 12 full member institutions.
North Carolina A&T was first announced as a new member on February 7, 2020, and gives the Big South five full members in the state of North Carolina.
The school, which is based in Greensboro, North Carolina, fields a total of 17 varsity sports; eight for men and nine for women.
A&T was one of the seven schools that helped charter the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1970.
The Aggies are coming off a memorable 2020-21 season with co-regular season championships in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and softball, as well as conference titles in women’s basketball, volleyball, men’s outdoor track & field and women’s outdoor track & field.
At last month’s NCAA Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Cambrea Sturgis won the women’s 100m and 200m, and helped the Aggies to a fourth-place team finish. The Aggie men placed third at the national meet, while Randolph Ross Jr. won the National Championship in the 400m and later helped teammates Daniel Stokes, Akeem Sirleaf and Trevor Stewart win the 4x400m relay.
Ross and Stewart also qualified for this month’s Tokyo Olympics as part of Team USA, while Sirleaf (Liberia) and Stokes (Mexico) will also compete in the Games from July 23-August 8.
As a public, high-research activity landgrant university, North Carolina A&T is a research engine, education center and economic catalyst serving not only the state of North Carolina, but the nation. With students drawn from nearly every state in America and six continents around the world, A&T’s educational impact is as broad and deep as any university in the Southeastern United States. It is not only America’s top-rated historically black university (HBCU), but its largest for seven consecutive years, as well as its leading HBCU STEM institution. The university produces more African American engineers and agricultural scientists than any university in the nation and is home to the top public HBCU business school in the country.
A&T has grown substantially over the past decade in enrollment, in academic programming and in research capabilities, adding four new centers of excellence in the past year alone. The school’s relentless implementation of a visionary strategic plan will see it expand to an enrollment of more than 14,000 by 2023, add important facilities like the $90 million Engineering Research and Innovation Center due to open in 2021, and a new 450-bed residence hall, as well as growth in its research program through expansion of strategic partnerships with a broad range of federal agencies and private concerns.