Justin Whitner | Staff Writer
After more than two decades in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Hampton University will make the switch to the Big South Conference.
Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle Kallander and Hampton University Athletic Director Eugene Marshall made the announcement Nov. 16 in the Student Center Theater.
Kallander said that the vote to put Hampton Football in the Big South was a “unanimous decision.” The Big South sponsors 16 of the 17 sports in which Hampton University participates. This means that all sports — excluding the lacrosse team, which is independent — will make the change to the Big South. Hampton has been in the MEAC since 1995.
Marshall said there is the possibility that the Pirates won’t begin to play football in the Big South until the 2019 season. This means rivalries against schools such as Howard University and Norfolk State would continue for the next season, as well as games against other Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Many questions have arisen since the announcement. What will happen for the seasons beginning in 2019? Will Hampton football play strictly HBCUs in nonconference games?
Playing in a bigger conference will give Hampton athletics a chance to not just prove themselves, but also the athletic worth of all HBCUs.
According to ESPN’s The Undefeated, Hampton is the second HBCU at the Division I level not competing in a historically black league, the other one being Tennessee State.
“Our goal at Hampton is to be the best mid-sized university in the country, and I think that the Big South helps us to obtain that,” Marshall said.
Hampton alum Lysander Bracey thinks the decision to go from MEAC to the Big South will be a great move.
“We’re on a bigger stage now, and the competition gets better as well,” Bracey said. “I’m excited for the upcoming years in the Big South.”
The change to the Big South will likely mean a change in attendance. Will more or less Hampton students attend athletic events to cheer on the Pirates? This positive or negative change can only be determined with time.