BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Less than a month after announcing the addition of Florida A&M to the conference, the SWAC now says Bethune-Cookman is also joining.
Officials said Bethune-Cookman will be added as a full member effective with the 2021-22 academic year. They added the decision was reached during the executive meeting of the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
”Bethune-Cookman’s move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference is one that is clearly in the best interest of the University, particularly during this major shift in higher education and intercollegiate athletics,” said President Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite. “We believe this is a logical next step in the evolution of our University. Moreover, it reflects our commitment to strengthening the University’s long-term competitiveness and viability, while providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes.”
The Wildcats are leaving the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). They sponsor 17 varsity sports at the Division I level, all of which are also 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.
”We’re extremely excited to welcome Bethune-Cookman University to the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland. “The Wildcats undoubtedly align with our core principles and strategic plan; and they also align with our overall vision and forward movement within our strategic plan. The addition also brings to our league an institution with academic prowess, a world-renowned marching band, along with an enthusiastic base of alumni, fans and supporters.”
Bethune-Cookman’s athletic history can be traced as far back as the 1910s, when the Jacksonville-based Cookman Institute baseball team produced Negro League All-Star Dick Lundy. Cookman Institute merged with Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute in 1923, with the institution’s first football game recorded that year.
Bethune-Cookman was a member of the SWAC before joining the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1950 and then the MEAC in 1979. It already has rivalries with several SWAC schools.
With the addition of Bethune-Cookman, the SWAC will now have 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, Bethune-Cookman).
The league will begin looking at changes to future scheduling and championship formats with this newest addition.
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