Archive for the ‘SoCon News’ Category

SoCon, Big South ‘holding their breath’ after NCAA’s ‘Big Five’ vote

August 13, 2014
New Citadel A.D. Jim Senter now has a different view of the "Big 5"

New Citadel A.D. Jim Senter now has a different view of the “Big 5”

By: Jeff Hartsell, postandcourier.com
8/8/14

When Jim Senter was introduced as The Citadel’s new athletic director on Wednesday, his new school was subject to most of the same rules as larger NCAA Division I counterparts such as Clemson and South Carolina.

By the time Senter began house-hunting in Charleston on Friday, the D-I landscape had shifted. A vote by the Division I board of directors on Thursday granted autonomy to the NCAA’s five richest conferences, meaning that the 65 schools in the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 could soon be able to increase the value of scholarships, improve health insurance for athletes, allow players to consult agents and more. “I told my boss at Colorado, ‘It’d be nice if you big boys would share some of those luxuries with us,” said Senter, who came to The Citadel from the University of Colorado, a Pac-12 member. “He said, ‘Boy, how quickly your mindset has changed.'”

It’s too early to say exactly how Big Five autonomy will impact the other 27 leagues in Division I. But it’s safe to say officials in smaller leagues such as the Southern Conference and the Big South are worried about it. “I just hope the commitment we have to each other prevails, and we don’t let any of this tear us apart,” SoCon commissioner John Iamarino said recently. “We’re not the only ones having these conversations,” said Iamarino, whose league includes The Citadel, Wofford and Furman. “They are taking place among all 27 conferences outside of the Big Five. I think you are going to find other FBS leagues, like the Mid-American and Sun Belt, they are stuck.

They’ve backed themselves into a corner where they’ve said, ‘We’re just like the Big Five,’ and they will do what they have to do to keep up.” And that could mean that non-revenue sports are dropped in the name of providing cost-of-attendance scholarships for football and basketball, he said. “Programs will be dropped, Olympic sports programs will be in peril,” Iamarino said. “At our level, I hope we can maintain those programs, make intelligent decisions and live within our resources. That’s who we are.”

The huge diversity in resources even among Big Five members makes permissive legislation problematic, said Charleston Southern athletic director Hank Small. “The recent food legislation is a perfect example,” said Small, whose school is a Big South member. “You can feed student-athletes as much as you want. So you have SEC schools hiring nutritionists and gourmet chefs, and people on the other end who can’t afford to do anything.”

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is among the Big Five football coaches who believe those schools should schedule only each other, which would mean an end to big-money guarantee games for schools such as The Citadel and CSU. But Small does not believe that will happen anytime soon. “We’re talking to people about scheduling (guarantee) games for 2020 and beyond,” he said. “I think the pressure is going the other way, that those schools have to share the wealth somehow. They are doing very well because of TV money, and we need to be part of that in some way. Having our kids go to Georgia or Alabama, not just in football and basketball but other sports, is a fantastic experience for them.”

The Big Five autonomy decision still must pass a 60-day comment period before it is NCAA law. People like Iamarino, Senter and Small will be watching closely.
“Everybody’s holding their breath,” Small said.

SoCon football players face stiffer penalties for ‘targeting’ under league rules

August 16, 2013
Coach Kevin Higgins is miffed at the SoCon's new rule

Coach Kevin Higgins is miffed at the SoCon’s new rule

By: Jeff Hartsell, The Charleson Post-Courier

August 15, 2013

College football players face new penalties this season for “targeting,” the practice of hitting another player above the shoulders with the crown of the helmet. But players in the Southern Conference face even stiffer penalties, thanks to a years-old league policy that is under attack from SoCon football coaches.

The new NCAA penalties call for players to be ejected from the game if they are flagged for targeting. Last season, the call resulted only in a 15-yard penalty. This season, a first-half targeting penalty means the player is ejected for the rest of the game. A penalty in the second half of a game means the player is out for the rest of that game and the first half of the next game.

But the SoCon has a policy, apparently alone among FCS leagues, that would suspend players for an extra game if they are flagged for targeting. The SoCon rule, in place for some 20 years, calls for a player disqualified from a game in any sport to also be suspended for the next game.  That means that a SoCon player whistled for targeting in the first half of a game will be ejected for the rest of that game and suspended for the next one. A second-half penalty means a player will miss the remainder of that game and the entirety of the next game, instead of just the first half.

Citadel football coach Kevin Higgins said league coaches are concerned about the potential effects of the policy.“The rule makes a lot of sense for players who are ejected for fighting or unsportsmanlike conduct,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense for the Southern Conference to have a rule that’s different from the NCAA rule for targeting.  “You could target and have bad technique cause that, and you are out for an additional game? That’s opposed to fighting, where it makes sense because a player makes a conscious decision to do something illegal.”

Higgins said SoCon coaches discussed the issue in league meetings, and that he has asked Citadel athletic director Larry Leckonby to take it up with SoCon commissioner John Iamarino.  “We’ve had conference meetings where this came up, and we thought it would be addressed,” Higgins said. “Hopefully, our commissioner will look at that and put us in the same boat with everybody else.”  Higgins also pointed out that “targeting” is a judgment call, as was demonstrated by the preseason confusion over whether South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney’s famous hit from last year’s Outback Bowl would result in ejection under the new rules.

But Iamarino said the issue was discussed Tuesday during a conference call with league athletic directors, and there was no consensus to change the SoCon’s policy.  “We have had some concern expressed,” Iamarino said. “The conference ejection/suspension policy has been in place for almost 20 years. And each time it’s been reviewed or reconsidered, our administrators have said, ‘This is the way we want it. We want sportsmanship to be a high priority and want to leave the rule alone.’ There’s been no change in philosophy among the presidents and administrators.”

Because instant replay isn’t available at the FCS level, there will be a review process in place for targeting penalties this season. Targeting calls that are overturned will not result in suspension by the SoCon; calls that are upheld will result in suspension, Iamarino said.  Iamarino also said there were no targeting penalties called in SoCon games last season.

The SoCon also has decided that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will be listed at the bottom of league standings this season, each with an asterisk noting they are ineligible for the league title. App State and GSU are ramping up their scholarships levels for next year’s move to FBS and the Sun Belt, and will have more than the FCS limit of 63 scholarships this season. That makes them ineligible for the FCS playoffs and the SoCon title.

SoCon casts wary eye on talk of college football ‘Super Division’

July 26, 2013

by: Jeff Hartsell, The Charleston Post-Courier

Thursday, July 25, 2013

SPARTANBURG — Talk of a “Super Division” dominated discussion during recent football media days in leagues such as the Big 12, the SEC and the ACC.

The Southern Conference is in no danger of joining a “Super Division,” but league officials are watching carefully as momentum builds for a separate division within the NCAA for college football’s five power conferences.

“I have no doubt that there are big changes coming in Division I,” SoCon commissioner John Iamarino said during the league’s media day Wednesday. “And that includes a new subdivision for the five so-called power conferences down the road.”

Such a subdivision — whether it’s called a “Super Division” or “Division Four,” as some have proposed — would have serious implications for Division I FCS leagues such as the SoCon, which includes state schools The Citadel, Wofford and Furman.

And it might be even more problematic for schools such as Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, which are playing their final season in the SoCon this year before moving up to FBS and the Sun Belt Conference.

If the power conferences — the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 — form their own division with their own playoffs, where does that leave Georgia Southern and App State — in some sort of no-man’s land between FCS and the “Super Division?”

“It’s no surprise,” Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said of the proposed new division. “It doesn’t come as a shock to anybody who follows college football. And I understand why they are doing it.

“But I don’t think that movement by those schools, I don’t see how that leaves everyone else out. There’s still going to be a need for the rest of us who are left to be part of their scheduling for football or any other sport. There will have to be an inclusion there.”

App State coach Scott Satterfield said he could foresee three subdivisions within Division I.

“It’s obviously driven by money,” he said, “and the big five leagues see those dollar signs and see if they go on their own, they can make even more money. I don’t know what that leaves for schools like us, making the transition up to FBS. Will there be three divisions in Division I — an elite league, the rest of us and the FCS? For us and Georgia Southern, I think we’re just setting ourselves up for whatever may happen. Our scholarship numbers are going up, and we will fall where we need to fall.”

For FCS programs, the big question is whether “Super Division” teams would continue to schedule the big money guarantee games they depend on. Already, the Big Ten has moved toward phasing out FCS games, and Alabama coach Nick Saban has advocated power conference teams playing only each other.

Iamarino doesn’t expect that to happen.

“I want to see it when they decide to just play themselves,” he said. “I don’t think the alumni at Michigan State or Texas are going to sit still for 6-5 records, so I will be surprised if that happens.

“If it does, though, it creates problems for us. I asked one of our athletic directors what happens if the money games dry up. And he said they’d probably have to drop some sports. That’s where we could be headed.”

Lower level FBS leagues such as the Sun Belt also could face problems if the “Super Division” decides not to share revenue from a lucrative playoff.

“If they create their own eight-team playoff and cut everyone else out and don’t share the revenue, that’s a serious issue for the BCS wanna-be leagues,” Iamarino said. “If they don’t share in that revenue, those leagues don’t look a whole lot different than we do. I don’t see how the Mountain West or Conference USA survives for long without that playoff money they are counting on.”

Whether there is a “Super Division” or not, Iamarino is confident that there will always be a demand for FCS football.

“This would just formalize what is already in place,” he said. “In terms of resources, attention and media, Nick Wallenda would be challenged to walk across the gap that is already there between the power conferences and everyone else.

“But I do think there will always be a place for FCS football. There will always be at least 100 schools in Division I that want to play for a national championship and do it with a measure of cost-containment that makes sense.”

SoCon wrap, Exteme Makeover edition

June 20, 2013

cropped-CitadelFor those of you who don’t frequent the Charleston Post & Courier website, let me introduce you to one of the best, non-partisan blogs about Citadel Sports, Bulldog Bites from most excellent Citadel beat sportswriter, Jeff Hartsell. Here is his take on the “New SoCon”  (Courtesy of the Charleston Post & Courier)

 After the SoCon announcement Thursday, somebody called me on the phone, wanting to know what the Big South would do about replacing VMI.   My answer: “Click.”    I’ve had enough of “conference realignment” for a while, as I’m sure SoCon commish John Iamarino has. For at least the time being, he can turn those duties over to the bosses of the Atlantic Sun and Big South.

First, a couple of extras from Thursday:

– Davidson and Elon will compete for league championships in 2013-14, their final year in the league, as will App State and Georgia Southern. The only exception is football, where App and GSU are ineligible because they will exceed the FCS 63-scholarship limit.

– The SoCon basketball tournament will be held in Asheville through 2016-17 after the city and league agreed to a three-year extension.

Now, on to how the SoCon will look as of July 1, 2014, when the five departing members are all gone and VMI, ETSU and Mercer are on board.

In football, the 8-team lineup will look like this in 2014:

The Citadel, Wofford, Furman, Samford, Western Carolina, Chattanooga, Mercer, VMI. (ETSU does not plan to start league play until 2016).

Capt. Obvious reports that it’s a weaker football league without App State and GSU and their nine FCS national titles. And Wofford, the only team to seriously threaten those two in recent years, looks set up to rule the roost for a while. But it might be a more competitive, balanced league than it was in some years under App State and GSU’s rule. I can see Citadel, Wofford, Furman, Samford and Chatt as perennial contenders.

As for playoff bids, don’t forget that the FCS is going up to a 24-team field this year, and App State and GSU won’t be getting two of them. Those bids have to go somewhere, so I think the SoCon will remain a 2 or 3-bid league.

A seven-game SoCon slate in 2014 means league ADs will be scrambling to fill holes. For example, The Citadel will have 12 games in 2014: seven against the SoCon (with VMI now a league foe), a money game against Florida State and non-conference games with Coastal Carolina and Charlotte. That leaves two games for the Dogs to fill.

Among the start-up programs, Mercer is well ahead of ETSU. The Bears have former Furman coach Bobby Lamb at the helm (ETSU does not yet have a coach), have had a couple of recruiting classes already and begin play this season in the non-scholarship Pioneer League. Mercer has already had to expand its stadium from the original 6,000 to 10,000 because of season-ticket demand. I don’t think Mercer will have a Old Dominion-type liftoff to its program, but Lamb knows what it takes to compete in the SoCon.

ETSU, meanwhile, does not yet have a coach, though former Tennessee boss Phil Fulmer is serving as a “football expert.” The Bucs have yet to sign a recruiting class, though they are having a reunion of former players. The best news is ETSU won’t be playing football in the old Mini-Dome; ETSU plans to build a new, on-campus, open-air stadium in time for the 2016 season.

Then there’s VMI, which left the SoCon in 2003 largely because it could not compete in football, and hasn’t done any better in the Big South. The commish said VMI has made promises of stepping up its game in football, but even former USC coach Sparky Woods has failed to make inroads in that regard; he’s 9-24 in three seasons. Of course, VMI won’t have to play GSU and App any longer, and that should help.

Basketball

In 2014, the 10-team lineup will be: The Citadel, Wofford, Furman, Samford, Western Carolina, Chattanooga, UNC Greensboro, Mercer, VMI and ETSU

All together now: Yikes.

Mercer, which won the Atlantic Sun regular season last year (ahead of NCAA darling Florida Gulf Coast) comes in as a top contender immediately. Heck, VMI might too. But after last season, the SoCon has no where to go but up (we hope). Wofford coach Mike Young won’t be down for long, and new coaches at Furman and Chattanooga offer hope.

With a 10-team league, the SoCon is likely to play an 18-game, round-robin slate with no divisions, which works out pretty well for scheduling purposes.

Baseball

A 9-team lineup in 2014: Western Carolina, The Citadel, Furman, Samford, Wofford, UNCG, Mercer, VMI, ETSU.

The SoCon loses top programs in College of Charleston, Elon and Georgia Southern, and App State made strides in recent years. But Mercer and ETSU are NCAA playoff teams this year, and that means SoCon baseball will suffer the least of the three major sports. Plus, it’s great to have ETSU coach and Citadel College World Series hero and two-sport star Tony Skole back in the league.

A 24-game league slate means coaches will have to fill a couple of extra weekends. That’s good for The Citadel and College of Charleston, who plan to play 3-game non-conference series at least for the next couple of years.

All in all, the SoCon will not be what it was. But neither is the Atlantic 10 or Colonial Athletic Association, or even the Big East.

Your comments on the new-look SoCon are welcome.

 

Editors note:  As you can see, Jeff does a great job with Bulldog Bites.  If you wish to read it on a regular basis here is the website address:

http://blog.postandcourier.com/bulldog-bites

ETSU, Mercer, VMI set to join SoCon

June 3, 2013

 The Associated Press

Updated date:

 

Last Updated – May 31, 2013 10:36 GMT

 

 

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Southern Conference official believe they have secured the league’s future — and hopefully reversed a troubling trend — by adding East Tennessee, Mercer and VMI as new members.

The conference announced Thursday that East Tennessee and Mercer accepted invitations while VMI’s addition must be ratified Friday by the school’s Board of Visitors.

“All indications are they will accept our invitation,” conference Commissioner John Iamarino said.

The SoCon had been one of the most plundered leagues recently with five of its 12 members choosing to leave since November.

“We lost some good member who left for some very good reasons,” Wofford athletic director Richard Johnson said. “But with the core group remaining and three new members, in three years it’ll be a Southern Conference that seemed as strong as it always was.”

East Tennessee was part of the Southern Conference from 1978 until 2005 when it left for the Atlantic Sun Conference. VMI competed in the Southern Conference for 79 years until 2003. Mercer had been one of the A-Sun’s founding members in 1978.

All three are expected to join in July 2014, giving the league 10 members for the 2014-15 academic year.

“The addition of these three institutions will solidify the Southern Conference,” Iamarino said, “and ensure our position as a vibrant league with a bright future.”

And maybe end the full-scale rush to leave the league the past six months.

College of Charleston began the exodus in November with its move to the Colonial Athletic Association. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, two of the SoCon’s most powerful football schools, left for the Sun Belt Conference, while basketball powerhouse Davidson will join the Atlantic 10. The latest departure came earlier this month when Elon bolted for the Colonial.

A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart said his league has had inquiries from schools seeking membership.

“While [Thursday’s] announcement is not unexpected, it is clear that the conclusion of some relationships often spur the evolution of others, and this will now be the case for the A-Sun,” he said.

Iamarino doesn’t think realignment and reconfiguration of conference affiliations is done yet, not with the four-time playoff for Football Bowl Subdivision programs on the horizon. But he believes the SoCon found some stability with its latest additions.

As proof, Iamarino pointed to the seven remaining members after Elon chose to leave. He said all the athletic directors got on the phone, unprompted by the league, and gave commitments to one another, saying their intentions are to remain and restore the Southern Conference.

“I actually feel like in the next few years we have a chance to be more stable than we’ve been in the last seven or eight years,” Iamarino said.

Mercer President William D. Underwood said the schools executive committee of the board of trustees voted unanimously to accept the Southern Conference’s invitation to join. He said the move would restore historic rivalries for the school and also “reduce travel burdens on our student athletes.”

All Mercer sports except men’s and women’s lacrosse and women’s sand volleyball, which are not conducted in the new league, will compete in the Southern Conference. The school said that includes football, which is returning next fall after getting halted 72 years ago. Mercer football will compete in the Pioneer League next fall and join the SoCon for 2014.

“Our coaches and student-athletes are looking forward to competing in the Southern Conference,” Mercer athletic director Jim Cole said. “This is a good move for Mercer in general and for the athletics department in particular.”

East Tennessee is also bringing back football and Iamarino said the league will have nine teams competing for its NCAA automatic bid in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs by 2016.

Iamarino said it was impossible to adequately replace the Appalachian State and Georgia Southern football programs, which have won or shared the conference football crown in 20 of the past 27 years. They’ve combined for nine national championships since 1985.

Neither can compete for next year’s conference title because they’ll be above the 63-scholarship limit for FCS schools as they transition to FBS.

“We are very excited about the fact that we’ve got two new programs that are going to build their stations the right way in Mercer and East Tennessee,” he said.

Iamarino didn’t close the door on the Southern Conference growing, although he said that discussion would be tabled until the fall meetings at the earliest so the three new members could have a say. “I’m getting the sense the membership is looking for stability and wants to be content with this group before we get any bigger,” he said.

Q&A: Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino discusses future of league

May 30, 2013
The SoCon Commissioner

The SoCon Commissioner

by: Jeff Hartsell, The Charleston Post-Courier

May 29,2013

The line of dominoes that began falling when the ACC raided the Big East for Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech 10 years ago has finally reached the Southern Conference.

With five schools leaving the SoCon, the mid-major league is expected to issue invitations to prospective members VMI, East Tennessee State and Mercer at its spring meetings this week in Hilton Head.

Commissioner John Iamarino addressed several topics related to SoCon expansion ahead of the meetings.
Q: Why hasn’t the SoCon been able to move faster on this?

A: Frankly, I was frustrated that we didn’t take definitive action at our April meeting in Charlotte. But fans have to understand that the commissioner doesn’t push a button and decide we’re going to expand. Commissioners can recommend, and I’ve certainly done that all along. But ultimately presidents and chancellors decide, and this group has chosen to be patient and wait until they have all the facts. Our movement will affect other conferences, and they will have to react. I honestly think in another 10 years, a new set of administrators and commissioners will wake up and say, “Why exactly did we do this? Why are we getting on airplanes for regular season games?”

Q: Given all the recent changes, how confident are you in the “core seven” of The Citadel, Furman, Wofford, Chattanooga, Samford, Western Carolina and UNC Greensboro?

A: After the announcements by Davidson and Elon, the athletic directors from the seven remaining schools conducted a conference call on their own, not sponsored by the league. They reassured each other that they are in it for the long haul. I had a great conversation with (new Chattanooga AD) David Blackburn and he said, ‘Don’t worry about us, this is where we want to be.’ So I do feel very good about our core seven. The No. 1 thing everyone is after is stability. If we add the three schools that we’ve visited, I think we’ll get that. That gives us a great nucleus of 10 that we could stay with for a couple of years.

Q: How soon can Mercer and ETSU play SoCon football?

A: The earliest I see Mercer playing football in the SoCon is 2014. For ETSU, we’re kind of leaning toward a full conference schedule in 2016. They will begin playing in 2015, but like Mercer, they’d like to have two full recruiting classes before starting league play. That way they avoid having to rely on junior college transfers. We want them to get their program off on the right foot academically and in terms of foundation.

Q: The league will collect $3 million in exit fees over the next couple of years from departing schools College of Charleston, Davidson, Elon, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. What will that money be used for?

A: We are going to be working with a professional marketing company to help us in the rebranding of the league. I would like for us to go deep into the digital space with video streaming, where we can get football, basketball and baseball streamed through a central portal so fans can see their teams’ home games and away. We also want to expand our presence on linear TV, where we currently don’t any any inventory.

Q: With Davidson’s departure, what is the future of the basketball tournament in Asheville?

A: At our meetings, the Asheville sports commission will make a presentation asking us to extend the tournament there another three years. They have expressed a strong desire to keep the tournament in Asheville.

Q: What are your thoughts on Elon and Davidson being eligible for SoCon championships in 2013-14, their last year in the league? Other leagues have made departing members ineligible.

A: That topic is on our agenda. My approach is, we should allow them to compete for championships, but I don’t think we should allow them to host conference championships. I know allowing them to compete is not a feeling shared by all of our core seven, but that’s my recommendation.”

Ron Morris’ column : Money, fear key in breakup of Southern

May 29, 2013

 By Ron Morris    While in Greenville 

Published in The State (Columbia, SC) 5/25/13

When the Southern Conference baseball tournament concludes Sunday with the championship game at Flour Field, the league will remove the banners of each member school that ring the facade behind home plate.  It will be the last official act of the Southern Conference that we have come to know and love the past few decades. In another year, five SoCon members will be gone to other conferences and perhaps replaced by another five.  There is little doubting that the upheaval in the Southern Conference is the residual effect of the money grab called re-alignment among the NCAA’s five super conferences.  “In five or 10 years, there will probably be other commissioners and other administrators, but I do think people are going to say, ‘What exactly were we thinking about where geography is no longer the driver for conference memberships and rivalries are thrown out the window?’ ” said John Iamarino, in his eighth year as Southern Conference commissioner.  While conference shuffling has eliminated rivalries such as Missouri-Kansas at the highest level, it also has left long-time rivals Furman and Appalachian State no longer on each other’s schedule. College of Charleston and Davidson, one of the best mid-major rivalries in the country in men’s basketball, no longer will exist.  That is because College of Charleston is leaving this year for the Colonial Athletic Conference. So, too, is Elon in 2014. Davidson is taking off for the Atlantic 10 in 2014, and Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are bolting for the Sun Belt in 2014.What once was a proud and stable conference now is a shell of its former self, no longer able to boast of being the best of the mid-major leagues in many sports.  All the movement within the BCS-level conferences has everything to do with money. Those conferences need the mega-million dollar TV contracts to continue to feed the beast – which in nearly every case is football. In order to compete at that level, one family member must keep up with another in what appears to be an ever-escalating arms race.  At the FCS level, Iamarino believes there is one overriding factor that compels one school after another to jump conferences: fear.  “That fear is that we may be subject to an affiliation that isn’t what we want if other people leave,” Iamarino said.  Elon, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern all departed so they could compete in football at the FBS level, meaning they position themselves to generate more money for their athletics departments. College of Charleston and Davidson departed for men’s basketball, although both schools mentioned they want to better “brand” their institution in a different part of the country.  The latter reason sticks in Iamarino’s craw. “They want to brand the university or college as a school that recruits (students) in the northeast,” Iamarino said. “I understand that, and that’s well and good.“ But I think that’s sad that so much of this branding that presidents talk about is being done on the backs of student-athletes. Presidents are not climbing on an airplane at 6 in the morning to get back home, or stuck in an airport when they miss a flight trying to play a volleyball match in the northeast where it’s snowing.”  Now, instead of bus trips for conference games at The Citadel, Furman, Wofford, Davidson and UNC-Greensboro, College of Charleston will travel by airplane to such outposts as Philadelphia (Drexel), New York City (Hofstra) and Boston (Northeastern).Instead of continuing a long-standing tradition of playing a home-and-home set against The Citadel in all sports, College of Charleston will meet its cross-town rival once a year in all sports. “That’s disappointing, disappointing because it’s such a natural rivalry,” said Larry Leckonby, The Citadel’s athletics director. “Playing home and home with them would make a lot of sense. But they’ll be off traveling all over the country. ”So, the Southern Conference must accept that some of its most stable members are off to join the world of multi-million dollar coach’s contracts, playing games at any time of day or night as TV dictates and generally selling its collective soul for the almighty dollar. That does not mean the Southern Conference will sell out as well. Its athletics directors and presidents will meet this week in Hilton Head primarily to discuss the prospect of bringing in new members. Mercer, VMI and East Tennessee State appear to be viable options with Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina as possibilities. Iamarino is adamant that prospective members must meet certain criteria. First, the academic profile of the school is important to the conference. Second, the schools must be located within the current geographic boundaries of the conference. Third, the schools must be competitive in athletics.  It is the way it used to work in college athletics.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2013/05/25/2787519/morris-money-fear-key-in-breakup.html#storylink=cpy

Austin Pritcher Chosen SoCon Pitcher of the Week

May 14, 2013
Pritcher is ths SoCon pitcher of the week

Pritcher is ths SoCon pitcher of the week

Spartanburg, S.C. – Bulldog senior right hander Austin Pritcher added to his list of 2013 accolades with his selection as the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second time in the past three weeks.

Pritcher tossed his second complete game of the season in a 7-1 victory over College of Charleston on Friday at Riley Park. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out four and blanked the Cougars over the final seven innings in the final home appearance of his career.

The James Island High School graduate won his fourth straight decision and has not lost in his last six starts. Over that stretch he has allowed only eight earned runs covering 44 2/3 innings for an ERA of 1.61 while walking six and striking out 33.

Pritcher was also named the SoCon Pitcher of the Week after he hurled his second career shutout against Furman on April 26. He was also chosen the conference’s pitcher of the month for both February and April.

He is 7-2 on the season and has an ERA of 2.40, the best among SoCon starters, and also leads the league with an opponents’ batting average of .229. He is the winningest active pitcher in the conference with 21 career victories and also ranks first with 308 1/3 innings pitched, second with 224 strikeouts and fourth with an ERA of 3.74.

The Citadel brings a record of 30-22 and 17-10 in the SoCon into the final week of regular season play. The Bulldogs are at Charleston Southern on Tuesday at 6 p.m. before finishing conference action with a three-game set at UNC Greensboro beginning on Thursday.

The Bulldogs need to win two of three in the series against the Spartans to clinch the second seed in the upcoming SoCon tournament, which gets underway May 22 at Fluor Field in Greenville.

 

Furman athletic director confident in SoCon’s future

May 9, 2013

By: Mandrallius Robinson

May 8, 2013  The Greenville News

 

The Southern Conference is no stranger to realignment.  In 1932, 11 years after the league was founded, 13 original members split to form the Southeastern Conference. In 1952, seven other SoCon members left to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.  More than eight decades later, realignment is threatening the SoCon again.

On Wednesday, Davidson College announced plans to leave the SoCon to join the Atlantic 10. Davidson, which joined the SoCon in 1936, will begin play in the A-10 in 2014.  Davidson is the fourth school to announce plans to leave the SoCon in seven months. In March, football powers Appalachian State and Georgia Southern announced intentions to join the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. The College of Charleston announced in November 2012 it plans to join the Colonial Athletic Association in July.

This latest exodus may weaken the SoCon’s stature, at least temporarily. Davidson won the SoCon men’s basketball tournament five times in the past eight years. It advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2008 NCAA tournament.  Either Appalachian State or Georgia Southern has won the SoCon football title 18 of the past 22 years. The teams combined for five national championships during that span.

Still, Furman athletics director Gary Clark is confident the SoCon’s resilience will endure again.  “That’s always been a part of the SoCon’s history,” Clark said. “The names and cast members have constantly changed, but it’s the cooperative, positive attitude and commitment when people are members that have allowed it to survive.”

The departures of Davidson and Charleston leave the SoCon with only one non-football member, UNC-Greensboro. Furman, Wofford, The Citadel, Western Carolina, Chattanooga, Elon and Samford remain as full members.  The SoCon is not obligated to replace all four departing members. It can retain its automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs by adding two football-playing schools.

“It’s more of a discussion of what’s the right fit and what makes sense,” Clark said. “I don’t think the numbers are something we will continue to focus on. The key will be the fit, compatibility, the competitive opportunities and the fiscal responsibility.”  Clark said he expects new members to be secured by the end of this summer.

“It’s a conference that’s been around for a long time,” Clark said. “I think it will continue to be around for a very long time. The key to that is the people working openly with each other. We value the diversity in the league, and I think that will continue