CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After months of discussion, The College of Charleston Board of Trustees approved a resolution Friday morning to move forward with plans to switch athletic conferences.
A resolution to move forward with negotiations with the Colonial Athletic Association passed with a 12-5 vote.
There's no timetable for when the negotiations with the CAA might begin, but Athletic Director Joe Hull said he thinks the process will move quickly.
"I do think there are great benefits to moving to the Colonial, but I also love the Southern Conference. We think this is a good move and certainly a move forward for our program."
CofC President George Benson released a statement after the meeting saying "While I have always valued our ties with the SoCon universities, the College's Executive Team and I unanimously agree that we should enter into negotiations with the Colonial. I have great respect for all those who would prefer to remain in the SoCon. However, assuming our negotiations are successful, I ultimately believe that a move to the Colonial would be consistent with the aspirations identified in the College's Strategic Plan and will work to the advantage of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff."
Former CofC Head Basketball Coach John Kresse also made a statement saying "The Colonial's coaches, student-athletes, facilities, locations and their national visibility have made it a premier conference. I personally believe our association as a member would be a perfect fit for the College of Charleston."
CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said of the decision, "We are thrilled with the interest expressed by the College of Charleston. We look forward to entering into immediate negotiations with President Benson and hope to resolve any issues and finalize the process as quickly as possible."
Not all members of the Board of Trustees were in favor of the move. Jeff Schilz, a former CofC baseball player, was very vocal in his opposition of the move. "This move is made assuming there's more money in the CAA. This is a men's basketball decision and they would have to reach goals they haven't reached in a while."
Also brought up by a few members was the fact that Davidson, who had also reportedly been offered a spot in the CAA by the conference, has decided to stay in the SoCon. If the Wildcats had moved with CofC it would have been easier to create a Southern Division within the CAA that would have made for less travel expenses.
Some members also thought that the timing for this move might be wrong and that they should focus on improving other areas in the Athletic Department before jumping conferences.
It's believed that the team that would take the biggest hit with a move to the CAA would be the baseball team since the SoCon's RPI is much higher than the CAA's. Head Coach Monte Lee said after the vote "if we're in the SoCon or CAA our goals as a program and a department haven't changed. Our goal is to win the conference we're in and ultimately get to Omaha. So our goals haven't changed.
If the Cougars were to leave the SoCon now, they would have to pay the conference a $600,000 exit fee. The fee would drop to $300,000 if they gave 2 years notice.
The College of Charleston has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1998.