CHARLESTON, SC - The College of Charleston Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to accept an invitation to become a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
"We are very excited about joining the Colonial Athletic Association," President P. George Benson said. "It is a great fit for the College, both athletically and academically. This move is a significant step forward in the College's efforts to become a national university."
CofC will participate in 14 varsity level sports in the CAA starting in fall 2013 joining league members George Mason, James Madison, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary, Delaware, Drexel, Hofstra, Towson and Northeastern.
"Speaking for the entire membership, we are extremely excited that the College of Charleston will be joining the CAA," Commissioner Tom Yeager said. "We believe their nationally-recognized athletic and academic programs will be a great institutional fit with other CAA institutions. Charleston will enhance the competition level in the conference and add to our group of nationally-prominent teams in a number of sports. CAA fans will enjoy traveling to Charleston to see their teams play, as will Cougar fans and alumni located in CAA cities in many of the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast."
The CAA has produced 16 national team champions in five different sports, 33 individual national champions, 12 national players of the year, 12 national coaches of the year and 12 Honda Award winners. During the 2011-12 academic year, 24 teams earned NCAA Tournament berths and 51 student-athletes received All-America honors in 16 different sports. Additionally, the CAA has produced five Rhodes Scholars and 22 NCAA post-graduate scholars.
"We are thrilled to welcome the College of Charleston athletics program to the CAA," said UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller, Chair of the Colonial's Council of Presidents. "The Cougars are a terrific fit for the league, both athletically and academically, and we are confident that the entire conference will benefit from the addition of such a vibrant, competitive program. The College of Charleston's history of outstanding athletic performance and the enthusiasm of their dedicated fans will add a great deal of spirit to an already competitive conference. We're looking forward to our first matchups next season – and to a long and lively future of robust matchups."
Recently, the CAA signed a new five-year, multi-million dollar deal with NBC Sports Group to increase its number of annual national telecasts. The continuing CAA member institutions include four of the top eight largest media markets in the country, while seven of the nine current members are in top 50 markets. The landscape of the conference stretches along the majority of the East Coast and the number of television homes in the CAA market exceeds 20 million.
"We are very excited to have the opportunity to join an outstanding conference, the Colonial," CofC Director of Athletics Joe Hull said. "The Colonial is a high-quality league in so many ways. The competition will be tough, but I believe we will be prepared to compete for conference championships across the board immediately. One of the interesting benefits to this decision is that we are joining a league that has a presence in several of the greatest cities in our nation.
"Adding our great city of Charleston to that group creates the opportunity to bring tremendous positive recognition to our teams, our program, the College and our area. This is an amazing opportunity for the College of Charleston. I am confident we are up to the challenge."
The College of Charleston has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1998. After the announcement, Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino released the following statement:
"We're naturally disappointed, but not surprised, by today's decision. Public comments made it apparent that the College of Charleston administration favored this move. Successfully assimilating changes in membership has been part of the Southern Conference's DNA for more than 90 years. With the commitment and cooperation of our Presidents and Chancellors, we will continue to explore the best options available to us to ensure a successful future for our athletic programs and the student-athletes we serve."
"For the past 14 years, the College of Charleston has been a proud member of the Southern Conference," Hull said. "We are grateful for the competition, the friendships and the relationships we have experienced over those years. We wish the best for the Southern Conference going forward."