The Big South Conference will add Longwood University (Farmville, VA) as its 12th member beginning in the 2012-13 season. League commissioner Kyle Kallander also announced the league will begin divisional play in basketball for that season and the league will play their post-season tournament at a single site.
The Lancers have competed as an NCAA Division I Independent since 2007. Longwood was invited to join the conference following a vote by the Big South Council of Chief Executive Officers.
“Longwood University will be an outstanding member of the Big South Conference,” said Kallander. “Longwood features strong leadership, an outstanding academic reputation, and a commitment to Division I athletic success. It also values student-athlete well-being. These are all characteristics that are shared by Big South members and make Longwood a wonderful fit. We are excited to welcome the Longwood Lancers to the Big South family.”
“We are excited and thrilled that Longwood University has been invited to join the Big South Conference,” stated Longwood President Patrick Finnegan. “We believe that participation in the Big South will enhance school spirit by developing rivalries both in state and beyond, will boost our recruiting abilities, and will allow us to demonstrate the skill of our student-athletes in a conference setting where they could be rewarded with participation in NCAA tournaments.
“By limiting the travel time for our student-athletes through conference play close to home, we will be able to continue to put the ‘student’ first. We look forward to showing that our Lancers can be competitive both on the field of play and in the classroom, while increasing the visibility for our outstanding institution.”
Longwood sponsors 14 intercollegiate Division I sports, 13 of which are sponsored by the Big South: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, along with men’s and women’s tennis. The Lancers’ field hockey program will continue to compete within the Northern Pacific Field Hockey Conference (NorPac), as it has since 2005.
“I am overjoyed by the news that we will be joining the Big South Conference in 2012,” said Longwood Director of Athletics Troy Austin. “The student-athletes, coaches, and athletics staff members now have a place to call home. Knowing that we will be associated with a fine group of institutions enhances this fantastic opportunity. My thanks go to the Longwood family and all of the individuals who helped to elevate Longwood during our time as an Independent. This moment would not be possible without their support. Now that we have found conference affiliation, the future of Longwood Athletics is brighter than ever, and I am excited to be a part of it.”
The addition of Longwood necessitated the forming of divisions in the league. Longwood will be the fourth Virginia-based Big South institution (Liberty, Radford and VMI are the others). These four schools plus High Point and Campbell will make up the North Division. The remaining current Big South schools (Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian, UNC Asheville and Winthrop) will comprise the South Division.
In basketball, each divisional foe will meet on a home-and-home basis and will each play one game against each foe in their opposite division. There will be a total of 16 league games beginning next season, down from the current 18 games. This will allow teams to play more local opponents while still maxing out on the number of “guarantee” games they play.
The league is also committed to hosting their post-season tournament at one site next season. Several cities and schools have expressed an interest in hosting the tournament, including Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, Winthrop University, Asheville and UNC Asheville.