BUIES CREEK, N.C. - Campbell University will join the Big South Conference effective July 1, 2011. The announcement was made by Board of Trustees chairman Bob Barker at a press conference Thursday in the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center on campus.
In a meeting last month, the University's Board of Trustees unanimously approved a motion for Campbell to affiliate with the Big South Conference. As a full Big South member, Campbell will be immediately eligible for all championships beginning in the fall of 2011.
"We are excited about Campbell's return to the Big South Conference," said Campbell University President Dr. Jerry M. Wallace. "The Big South's membership is located in an area where most Campbell students, alumni and major supporters reside. We will feel at home with the excellent and well-recognized universities of the Big South and look forward to the rivalries we will share."
A charter member of the Big South, which formed in 1983 and began play one year later, Campbell joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in 1994 and will remain in the league for two more seasons.
The Fighting Camels will return to the Big South as a full member, competing in 17 of the 18 sports offered by the league. Campbell will remain a member of the Pioneer Football League as well as the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association and as a Division I independent in wrestling.
"We are excited about opening this new chapter in the history of Campbell University Athletics by returning to the Big South Conference," said Director of Athletics Stan Williamson. "The Big South Conference membership will provide our student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans a more â€˜travel-friendly' region of competition to celebrate and enjoy Fighting Camel Athletics."
Current Big South Conference membership includes five private institutions and five state schools, all of which are located in Virginia (3), North Carolina (3) and South Carolina (4). Round trip travel to all Big South schools is 4122 miles, a difference of 5038 fewer miles than travel to and from current Atlantic Sun Conference institutions.
Big South members are Charleston Southern University (S.C.), Coastal Carolina University (Conway, S.C.), Gardner-Webb University (Boiling Springs, N.C.), High Point University (N.C.), Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.), UNC Asheville, Presbyterian College (Clinton, S.C.), Radford University (Va.), Virginia Military Institute (Lexington, Va.) and Winthrop University (Rock Hill, S.C.).
Atlantic Sun membership includes three schools in Tennessee (Belmont, East Tennessee State and Lipscomb), one in South Carolina (USC Upstate), two in Georgia (Kennesaw State and Mercer), four in Florida (Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, North Florida and Stetson) and Campbell. Round trip travel to all A-Sun members is 9160 miles.
Campbell's longest trip as a Big South member (VMI) will be just slightly more than its shortest to an A-Sun member (USC Upstate, Spartanburg, S.C.).
As an A-Sun member, Campbell has qualified for NCAA post-season competition in cross country, men's and women's soccer, women's basketball, indoor and outdoor track and field, men's and women's golf, softball and women's tennis. Campbell posted the best overall men's and women's performance among A-Sun schools in 2005-06.
"It is most appropriate that as we celebrate the Big South Conference's Silver Anniversary, we welcome back one of our founding members, Campbell University," said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander. "The Big South is proud of its history and heritage, which includes many outstanding performances by Campbell student-athletes and coaches. The Big South Conference counts amongst its core values excellence in academics and athletics, leadership, integrity, diversity and fiscal responsibility. The addition of Campbell University reflects those values, and many more. Campbell will be an integral part of the Big South's efforts in developing leaders through athletics, and we are so pleased to have them back in the family."
During its 10 years as a Big South from 1983-94, Campbell won 35 combined league regular season and tournament titles and participated in the conference championship game in every sport offered by the league. The Fighting Camels claimed the Big South's Sasser (Commissioner's) Cup in each of its last three years as a league member (1992, 1993, 1994).
Four Camel greats have been enshrined in the Big South Conference Hall of Fame since its inception in 2003. The late Wendell Carr was inducted in 2003. Carr served as Director of Athletics at Campbell from 1974-92. He oversaw Campbell's move from NAIA to NCAA Division I athletics competition in 1977-78 and was one of the leaders in the formation of the Big South Conference in 1983, of which Campbell became a charter member. Carr wrote constitution and by-laws for the Big South Conference.
Four-time Big South all-conference selection and 1994 men's basketball player of the year Joe Spinks (1990-94) was a 2004 inductee into the Hall. Tammy Brown Tew (1987-91) was a two-time Big South women's basketball Player of the Year (1990, 1991) and three-time first-team all-conference selection. She ended her career as the League's all-time leading scorer (1,893 points). Janet Wooten Collins (1992-94) was inducted in 2008. She led Campbell to BSC women's golf championships in 1993 and 1994, was Campbell's first-ever NCAA individual qualifier (1993), and is just one of 17 women's golfers in Big South history to earn all-conference honors three times.
From left: Stan Williamson (Director of Athletics), Dr. Jerry M. Wallace (University President), Kyle Kallander (Commissioner, Big South Conference), Mr. Bob Barker (Chairman CU Board of Trustees)Photo by Bennett Scarborough.