BUIES CREEK, N.C. – After 17 years, Campbell University returns to the Big South Conference on July 1, 2011, realigning with a league of which it was a charter member from 1983-94. The Fighting Camel program’s return to the Big South pushes membership to 11 institutions for the first time in league history.
Campbellis immediately eligible for all Big South championships and honors upon its entry.
The Big South first announced Campbell’s membership on May 14, 2009. Campbell sponsors 20 varsity sports at the Division I level, 17 of which are sponsored by the Big South: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, volleyball and men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field. Campbell’s football (Pioneer League) women’s swimming (Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association) and wrestling (Southern) programs will not compete in the Big South Conference. Both Campbell and the Big South Conference will begin sponsoring women’s lacrosse in 2012-13.
“Campbell University is excited about returning to the Big South Conference,” said University President Dr. Jerry Wallace. “The Big South membership is located close to Buies Creek giving our students, alumni, and supporters the opportunity to travel and support the Fighting Camels. We look forward to competing against excellent Big South rival universities.”
The Camels enjoyed athletic and academic success as members of the Big South Conference from 1983-94. Campbell earned the Big South’s first automatic bid in men’s basketball in 1992 and in baseball in 1990, and was the first conference champion in men’s soccer (1984) and women’s soccer (1993). Its women’s basketball program was one of the league’s best in the conference’s first decade, and its rivalry with Radford on the hardwood was epic. The teams faced each other in the women’s basketball championship game six consecutive years from 1987 to 1992. Campbell’s women’s golf program was the first in Big South history to advance to the NCAA Regional Championship in 1994.
“I am excited about Campbell’s return to the Big South,” said Dr. Dennis Bazemore, Vice President for Student Life and Interim Director of Athletics. “I look forward to great competition with universities that we are familiar with in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.”
From its first title – men’s soccer in 1984 – through the 1994 sweep of the men’s and women’s golf championships, Campbell claimed 22 conference tournament crowns during its first stint in the league, of which its 11 members are located in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. In addition, CU claimed 12 regular season titles from 1984-94 and finished as tournament runner-up 23 times.
Campbellwon the Sasser Cup, presented annually to the Big South school with the best overall sports performance, in each of its last three years in the league (1992, 1993, 1994).
“We are thrilled to welcome Campbell University back to the Big South Conference,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander. “The coming year will mark the renewal of long-standing rivalries and warm friendships. In addition, Campbell’s values and commitment to excellence are a great fit with the Big South’s emphasis on Developing Leaders Through Athletics.”
Three current Campbell head coaches – John Crooks, Wanda Watkins and Ken Frenette – each enjoyed tremendous success during Campbell’s first stint as a Big South member. Crooks guided the men’s and women’s golf teams to a combined five team titles and was named league coach of the year five times from 1992-94.
The 1987 and 19991 Big South Coach of the Year, Watkins guided the Lady Camels to the 1989 Big South Tournament crown, the 1991 regular season championship and a share of the 1988 regular season title. Her teams also finished as runner-up in the conference tournament five times.
Frenette was named Big South Cross Country Runner of the Year after winning individual league honors in both 1986 and 1987 before graduating from Campbell in 1988.
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.).
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.
Comments from Campbell head coaches on the return to the Big South Conference
Robbie Laing (Men’s Basketball)
“The best thing about returning to the Big South is the opportunity to renew traditional rivalries. It’s not unrealistic to expect Campbell’s contingency to travel with us on the road for Saturday games, for instance at UNC Asheville. They have a new arena and are the defending champion. There are also close-enough rivals – High Point and Coastal Carolina – that our fans can attend on weeknights.
“I have been impressed with how many fans show up when we play regional non-conference games at home and expect that to transfer over now to games with conference opponents that are closer to home.
“Our return to the Big South virtually assures that there will be some sort of identity with almost every game on the schedule from a rivalry standpoint. When you combine our non-conference scheduling approach with a regional conference schedule, it gives you a true college basketball quality in every game. Let’s be honest about it. It’s been hard for our fans to get excited about watching Florida Gulf Coast or Kennesaw State.
There are a lot of great rivalries now, a lot of great match-ups and once we get on the court, I think those situations will be magnified. It’s a quality league and a great move for our University. This move will definitely help our program and the Big South will benefit from having us as a member as well.”
Wanda Watkins (Women’s Basketball)
“We are looking forward to being back in the Big South Conference! I remember so well all the many meetings and groundwork that Wendell Carr and Dr. (Norman) Wiggins put into us being a charter member of that league. It was a great opportunity for us then and I am grateful that Dr. Wallace and his administration have worked diligently to make it a great opportunity once more.
“It will be such a bonus for us to play teams that are close to us and the league rivalries will be renewed once again. Our fans and families will be able to join the Camel caravan to many of our games again when we hit the road and everyone will sense the Camels are coming!”
Ken Frenette (Men’s and Women’s Cross Country)
“It is great to return to the Big South. It is like coming back home.”
Steve Armas (Men’s Soccer)
“We are excited to join the Big South, and look forward to developing rivalries within the conference. One of the challenges of moving to a new conference is the unknown that lies ahead. We will work diligently to prepare and compete in each of our in conference matches.”
Todd Clark (Women’s Soccer)
“From years of being on the outside looking in, I think the Big South is a league that annually has six or more teams that can win not only the regular season title but the tournament as well. In the Big South there is so much parity and I think that is exciting for fans and teams because every single game can be the deciding match. For that matter, when five teams tie for the regular season championship like last year, every goal might mean the difference between a title and second place. Each team has good coaches, solid players and the ability to beat anyone else on the schedule at anytime. Do I expect us to win it all? Of course I do. We don’t prepare to win silver medals, but I am also aware that everyone else is expecting the same from their side as well. I know this; we have an excellent team with a lot of experience and they share a common goal – to win the Big South in our first attempt. I am excited for the new conference and all that it brings, in spite of the schedule, to compete weekly with regional teams in hopes of a tournament title and return to the NCAA tournament.”
Drew Peterson (Softball)
“I am looking forward to the shorter traveling distance, enabling our students to have more time on campus during our season of competition. I am also thankful that we should be able to return to campus at a reasonable time following away games.”
Leigh Mullins (Volleyball)
“Moving back to the Big South is a great opportunity to help with in-state recruiting. I'm really excited about the level of competition in volleyball in the Big South. The reduced travel will help further the academic success of our student athletes. We will be able to have more fans at away competition which will help us have more success in conference matches.”
2010-11 Fighting Camel Highlights
During 2010-11, Campbellstudent-athletes were honored 189 times on all-academic teams by the Atlantic Sun Conference (139), Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (13) and Pioneer Football League (37).
Campbellstudent-athletes completed more than 3,000 community service hours in and around the Buies Creek community during the 2010-11 academic year.
The Irwin Belk Track & Field Complex was completed. The 400-meter layout includes eight, 42-inch lanes on its polyurethane surface. Features also include a water jump pit for the steeple chase, high jump “D” area, pole vault runway, two shot put rings and one discus/hammer ring. There is one long jump runway adjacent to the home stretch with a sand pit on each end to allow for wind direction changes. The $1.2 million facility is located just off Leslie Campbell Ave., behind the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center and in front of the Nathan Johnson Aquatics Center.
Baseball… led the nation in times hit by a pitch and ranked 22nd in the country in stolen bases.
Men’s Basketball… won at Auburn in November 2010 to record the program’s first victory over a Southeastern Conference member since January 1994. Also defeated UNC Wilmington and Western Carolina in its non-conference schedule.
Football… Campbell led the Pioneer Football League and ranked 16th nationally in rushing.
Men’s Golf… Vaita Guillaume and Matt Moot earned at-large berths into the NCAA Regional at Radford, Va.
Men’s Tennis… Davy Sum was named A-Sun Player of the Year and received an invitation to the NCAA national singles championship… Fernando Guillen was named A-Sun Freshman of the Year.
Men’s Track & Field… Rashad Campbell (100 meters), Adoniss Jones (110 hurdles) and Diego Lawrence (long jump) qualified for the NCAA Regional Outdoor Championships. Lawrence was named Most Valuable Performer at both the Atlantic Sun Conference indoor and outdoor championships. Rashad Campbell was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer at the A-Sun indoor championships.
Wrestling… Parker Burns won the heavyweight class at the NCAA East Region Championships to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Women’s Basketball… Campbell set a single-game attendance record when 3095 fans packed Gore Arena for an Education Day victory over North Carolina Central.
Women’s Golf… finished as A-Sun runner-up, marking the 15th time in 17 years as an Atlantic Sun member it placed either first (eight times) or second (seven) in the league championship.
Softball… Defeated Virginia en route to Hampton Inn Tournament championship… Katie Woodcock led the nation in saves.
Women’s Tennis… David Johnson was named Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year… Karolina Chernaya was named A-Sun Freshman of the Year.
Courtney Cannon (women’s basketball), Sarah Forgacs (softball), Lizzie Goldbach (softball), Josh Holskey (baseball), Andy Johnson (football) and Mike Stryffeler (football) were named Academic All-District by CoSIDA , marking the 17th-straight year at least one Campbell athlete has earned that honor.
CampbellUniversityBig South Conference Titles (1984-94)
Baseball:tournament champion 1988 and 1990; runner-up 1985
Men’s Basketball:tournament champion 1992; runner-up 1987, 1989, 1994
Women’s Basketball:tournament champion 1989; regular-season champion 1988 (tie), 1991
Men’s Cross Country:runner-up 1984, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1993
Men’s Golf:champion 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994; runner-up 1987, 1991
Women’s Golf:champion 1993, 1994; runner-up 1992
Men’s Soccer:champion 1984, 1985, 1991, 1992; runner-up 1986, 1989, 1993
Women’s Soccer: champion 1993
Softball: tournament champion 1993, regular season champion 1994
Men’s Tennis: tournament champion 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992; regular season champion 1989, 1992, 1993
Women’s Tennis:tournament champion 1992, 1993; regular season champion 1993; runner-up 1992, 1994