Big South Conference
|Big South Conference|
|Region||South Atlantic States|
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Commissioner||Kyle Kallander (since 1996)|
The Big South Conference is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA's Division I. Originally a non-football conference, the Big South began sponsoring football in 2002 as part of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The Big South, founded in 1983, is firmly rooted in the South Atlantic region of the United States, with full member institutions located in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Associate members are located in Alabama, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
Charter members included Armstrong State (later Armstrong Atlantic State University and now merged into Georgia Southern University as its Armstrong Campus) (1983–1987), Augusta (later Augusta State University and now merged into Augusta University) (1983–1990), Campbell University (1983–1994; 2011–present), Baptist College (now Charleston Southern University) (1983–present), Coastal Carolina University (1983–2016), Radford University (1983–present) and Winthrop University (1983–present).
The expansion of membership occurred during the 1980s and '90s. Some of those members are the University of North Carolina at Asheville (1984–present), Davidson College (1990–1992), Liberty University (1991–2018), the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1992–1998), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1992–1997), Towson University (1992–1995), Elon University (1999–2003), High Point University (1999–present) and Birmingham–Southern College (2000–2006).
The Big South Conference began sponsoring football in 2002, with Charleston Southern, Elon (at the time) and Liberty (Gardner–Webb University also joined as a football-only member) fielding teams; Coastal Carolina and Virginia Military Institute (VMI) joined the conference as football-only members in 2003. In that same athletic year, VMI also joined the conference for all sports, but left to re-join the Southern Conference in 2014. Presbyterian College joined the conference in 2007, moving up from Division II, and became eligible for regular-season championships and conference honors during the 2008–09 athletic year. Gardner–Webb, which had been a football-only member since 2002, joined the conference for all sports on July 1, 2008. Campbell rejoined the Big South for all sports except football in the 2011–12 athletic year. Longwood University accepted an invitation to join the Big South on January 23, 2012, and membership formally began July 1 of that year; Longwood had been independent since 2004, during their transition to Division I. In 2014, following the departure of VMI, the conference returned to a single-division structure. On September 1, 2015, Coastal Carolina announced they would leave the conference following the 2015–16 school year to transition to FBS-level football and the Sun Belt Conference. On June 30, 2016, the day before the school joined the Sun Belt, Coastal Carolina won the 2016 College World Series in baseball. This was the first time in conference history that a team won an NCAA championship in any sport.
In September 2016, the Big South and the ASUN Conference (ASUN) announced a football partnership that effectively combined the two conferences in that sport. Under its terms, any members of either conference that add or upgrade to scholarship football, provided they fall within the current geographic footprint of the two leagues, automatically join Big South football. At the time of announcement, the only ASUN member that played scholarship football, Kennesaw State, was already a Big South football member. The partnership also provides a guaranteed football home to the leagues' non-scholarship football programs (at that time, Campbell from the Big South, and Jacksonville and Stetson from the ASUN) should they upgrade to scholarship status.
In December 2016, the University of North Alabama, ASUN, and the Big South Conference announced that, effective in 2018, the school will leave the Division II Gulf South Conference and will join ASUN in non-football sports and the Big South in football. UNA has won three Division II NCAA national championships in football and has won at least a share of the Gulf South Conference football championship for four consecutive seasons through 2016.
Three months later, Liberty announced that it would begin a transition to FBS football in July 2017 and leave the Big South football league in 2018. Liberty and the Big South agreed later in 2017 that the school would continue to house all of its non-football sports (except for field hockey and women's swimming, neither of which is sponsored by the Big South) in that conference for the immediate future. Once Liberty became a full FBS member at the start of the 2019–20 school year, it would have technically become a Big South associate member (barring the school joining an FBS conference). However, Liberty's plans would change several months later, as it instead announced in May 2018 that it would move its non-football sports to the ASUN effective that July (except for the aforementioned field hockey and women's swimming, also not sponsored by the ASUN).
In November 2017, the University of South Carolina Upstate and Hampton University announced that they would be leaving the ASUN and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, respectively, to join the Big South, starting in the fall of 2018.
On November 19, 2017, Presbyterian College announced it would be moving its football program to the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. Presbyterian's last Big South football season was in 2019; the Blue Hose planned to play the 2020 season as an independent before joining the Pioneer League for 2021 and beyond. The Blue Hose remain a member of the Big South in all other sports.
The Big South's most recently announced change to its core membership was the July 2021 arrival of North Carolina A&T State University from the MEAC as a full member, including football. At the same time, Robert Morris University was planned to join as a football-only member. North Carolina A&T joined on the originally planned schedule, but Robert Morris became a Big South football member in November 2020. COVID-19 led the conference to move its 2020 football season to spring 2021. Since two of the eight Big South football members (apart from RMU) chose to play in the originally scheduled fall 2020 season and a third chose not to play football at all in 2020–21, the Big South chose to bring the Colonials into the football league for spring 2021.
Most recently, the Big South added three new single-sport members in women's lacrosse effective with the 2022 season (2021–22 school year): Furman University, Mercer University, and Wofford College. All three are full members of the Southern Conference (SoCon), which disbanded its women's lacrosse league after the 2021 season.
Current full members
- Campbell was a founding member of the Big South Conference in 1983. The Fighting Camels left in 1994 and rejoined in 2011 for all sports, except for their football program, which remained in the Pioneer Football League until joining Big South football in 2018.
Current associate members
|Furman University||Greenville, South Carolina||1826||2021||Private
|Kennesaw State University||Kennesaw, Georgia||1963||2015||Public
|Mercer University||Macon, Georgia||1833||2021||Private
|Monmouth University||West Long Branch, New Jersey||1933||2014||Private
|6,167||Hawks||Football||Metro Atlantic (MAAC)|
|University of North Alabama||Florence, Alabama||1830||2019||Public||7,650||Lions||ASUN|
|Robert Morris University||Moon Township, Pennsylvania||1921||2020[a]||Private
|Wofford College||Spartanburg, South Carolina||1854||2021||Private
- Robert Morris was originally intended to join Big South football in the 2021 football season, part of the 2021–22 academic year. With the 2020 Big South football season moved to spring 2021, RMU was brought into the football league early.
- Armstrong State, which was last a member of the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference, dropped intercollegiate athletics at the end of the 2016–17 school year due to its impending consolidation with Georgia Southern University.
- Formerly known as Augusta State University until January 2013, when it merged with another Augusta institution (Georgia Health Sciences University) to create Georgia Regents University. At the time of the merger, only GRU (as Augusta State) had an athletic program, and GRU's sports teams continued to compete as "Augusta State" through the end of the 2012–13 school year. The school changed its name again to the current Augusta University in 2015.
- Liberty was ineligible for the Big South football title in its final conference season of 2017 (2017–18 school year), as it had started a transition to FBS football in that season.
Former associate members
former BSC Sport
|Davidson College||Davidson, North Carolina||1837||2012||2014||Private
|Wildcats||Lacrosse (w)||Atlantic 10|
|Stony Brook University||Stony Brook, New York||1957||2008||2013||Public||Seawolves||Football||America East||CAA|
|University of North Carolina Wilmington||Wilmington, North Carolina||1947||2000||2004||Seahawks||Golf (w)||CAA|
- Augusta State was merged into Georgia Regents University in January 2013; the merged school renamed itself Augusta University in 2015.
The Big South sponsors championship competition in nine men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Davidson has competed as an associate member in women's lacrosse, but left in 2014 when the school joined the lacrosse-sponsoring Atlantic 10 Conference. Stony Brook has competed as an associate in football, but left in 2013 for membership in the Colonial Athletic Association. Seven schools are currently associates: Kennesaw State, Monmouth, North Alabama, and Robert Morris in football, and Furman, Mercer, and Wofford in women's lacrosse.
|Track and Field (Indoor)||8||9|
|Track and Field (Outdoor)||8||9|
Divisional alignments from 2021 onward
The Big South instituted divisions with the addition of North Carolina A&T in 2021. The divisions align below and apply only to men's and women's basketball and volleyball.
|East Division||West Division|
|High Point||UNC Asheville|
|North Carolina A&T||USC Upstate|
Men's sponsored sports by school
|School||Baseball||Basketball||Cross Country||Football||Golf||Soccer||Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
|Total Big South Sports|
|North Carolina A&T||N||8|
- Presbyterian football left the Big South after the 2019 season. It played as an FCS independent in the 2020–21 school year and is now in the Pioneer Football League.
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Big South Conference which are played by Big South schools:
- Sailing is a coeducational sport governed by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association instead of the NCAA.
In addition to the above, Campbell counts both its male and female cheerleaders as varsity athletes.
Women's sponsored sports by school
|School||Basketball||Cross Country||Golf||Lacrosse||Soccer||Softball||Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
|Volleyball||Total Big South Sports|
|North Carolina A&T||N||N||8|
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Big South Conference which are played by Big South schools:
|North Carolina A&T||No||MEAC[d]||No||No||No||No|
- Part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program; national championship competition is governed by the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association.
- Sailing is a coeducational sport governed by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association instead of the NCAA.
- Part of the NCAA Emerging Sports program; national championship competition is governed by the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association.
- North Carolina A&T bowling remained in the MEAC after it otherwise joined the Big South.
In addition to the above, Campbell, Gardner–Webb, and Presbyterian consider their female cheerleaders to be varsity athletes, with Campbell also considering its male cheerleaders as such.
Football – players drafted to the NFL
The Big South has had a number of players to get drafted and play football professionally in the NFL.
|Name||Position||School||Draft year||Draft pick||NFL team|
|Tyler Thigpen||QB||Coastal Carolina||2007||Round 7, Pick 217||Vikings|
|Jerome Simpson||WR||Coastal Carolina||2008||Round 2, Pick 46||Bengals|
|Brian Johnston||DE||Gardner–Webb||2008||Round 7, Pick 210||Chiefs|
|Rashad Jennings||RB||Liberty||2009||Round 7, Pick 250||Jaguars|
|Josh Norman||CB||Coastal Carolina||2012||Round 5, Pick 143||Panthers|
|Justin Bethel||S||Presbyterian||2012||Round 6, Pick 177||Cardinals|
|Walt Aikens||CB||Liberty||2014||Round 4, Pick 125||Dolphins|
|NFL Draftees from the Big South Conference|
|Season||Regular season champion||Tournament champion||Tournament final location|
|1986||Charleston Southern (5–1)||Charleston Southern||Savannah Civic Center, Savannah, GA|
|1987||Charleston Southern (12–2)||Charleston Southern||Savannah Civic Center|
|1988||Coastal Carolina (9–3)||Winthrop||Winthrop Coliseum, Rock Hill, SC|
|1989||Coastal Carolina (9–3)||UNC Asheville||Winthrop Coliseum|
|1990||Coastal Carolina (11–1)||Coastal Carolina||Winthrop Coliseum|
|1991||Coastal Carolina (13–1)||Coastal Carolina||Civic Center of Anderson, Anderson, SC|
|1992||Radford (12–2)||Campbell||Civic Center of Anderson|
|1993||Towson State (14–2)||Coastal Carolina||North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, SC|
|1994||Towson State (15–3)||Liberty||North Charleston Coliseum|
|1995||UNC Greensboro (14–2)||Charleston Southern||Vines Center, Lynchburg, VA|
|1996||UNC Greensboro (11–3)||UNC Greensboro||Vines Center|
|1997||UNC Asheville (11–3)||Charleston Southern||Vines Center|
|1998||UNC Asheville (11–1)||Radford||Vines Center|
|1999||Winthrop (9–1)||Winthrop||Asheville Civic Center, Asheville, NC|
|2000||Radford (12–2)||Winthrop||Asheville Civic Center|
|2001||Radford (12–2)||Winthrop||Roanoke Civic Center, Roanoke, VA|
|2002||Winthrop, UNC Asheville (10–4)||Winthrop||Roanoke Civic Center|
|2003||Winthrop (11–3)||UNC Asheville||Vines Center (semis & finals only)|
|2004||Liberty (12–4)||Liberty||Vines Center (finals only)|
|2005||Winthrop (15–1)||Winthrop||Winthrop Coliseum (finals only)|
|2006||Winthrop (13–3)||Winthrop||Winthrop Coliseum (semis & finals only)|
|2007||Winthrop (14–0)||Winthrop||Winthrop Coliseum (semis & finals only)|
|2008||UNC Asheville, Winthrop (10–4)||Winthrop||Justice Center, Asheville, NC (semis & finals only)|
|2009||Radford (15–3)||Radford||Dedmon Center, Radford, VA (finals only)|
|2010||Coastal Carolina (15–3)||Winthrop||Kimbel Arena, Conway, SC (semis & finals only)|
|2011||Coastal Carolina (16–2)||UNC Asheville||Kimbel Arena (semis & finals only)|
|2012||UNC Asheville (16–2)||UNC Asheville||Kimmel Arena, Asheville, NC (quarters, semis & final)|
|2013||Charleston Southern, High Point (12–4)||Liberty||HTC Center, Conway, SC|
|2014||High Point (12–4)||Coastal Carolina||HTC Center, Conway, SC|
|2015||Charleston Southern, High Point (13–5)||Coastal Carolina||HTC Center, Conway, SC|
|2016||High Point, Winthrop (13–5)||UNC Asheville||Gore Arena, Buies Creek, NC|
|2017||Winthrop, UNC Asheville (15–3)||Winthrop||Winthrop Coliseum, Rock Hill, SC (quarters, semis, & finals)|
|2018||UNC Asheville (13–5)||Radford||Dedmon Center, Radford, VA|
|2019||Campbell, Radford (12–4)||Gardner–Webb||Dedmon Center, Radford, VA|
Basketball Tournament Championships by school
|School||# of Tournament Championships||Last Tournament Championship|
- †Former member of the Big South
|2004||Coastal Carolina||4–0 (10–1)|
|2005||Charleston Southern||3–1 (7–4)|
|Coastal Carolina||3–1 (9–2)|
|2006||Coastal Carolina||4–0 (9–3)|
|2009||Stony Brook||5–1 (6–5)|
|2010||Coastal Carolina*||5–1 (6–5)
|Stony Brook||5–1 (6–5)|
|2011||Stony Brook||6–0 (8–3)|
|2012||Coastal Carolina*||5–1 (7–4)
|Stony Brook||5–1 (9–2)|
|2013||Coastal Carolina||4–1 (10–2)|
|Coastal Carolina||4–1 (11–1)|
|2015||Charleston Southern||6–0 (9–2)|
|2016||Charleston Southern*||4–1 (7–4)
|2017||Kennesaw State||5–0 (12–2)|
|2018||Kennesaw State||5–0 (11–2)|
|2021||Kennesaw State||7–0 (11–1)|
|Season||Regular Season Champion||Tournament Champion||Tournament Runner-up|
|1987–88||Radford & Campbell||Radford||Campbell|
|1992–93||UNC Greensboro||Radford||UNC Greensboro|
|1993–94||UNC Greensboro||Radford||UNC Greensboro|
|1994–95||UNC Greensboro||Radford||UNC Greensboro|
|1996–97||UNC Greensboro||Liberty||UNC Greensboro|
|2006–07||High Point||UNC Asheville||Radford|
|2013–14||High Point||Winthrop||High Point|
|2015–16||UNC Asheville||UNC Asheville||Liberty|
Broadcasters (Big South Network)
In addition to basketball games being broadcast on regional and national television, member schools of the Big South Conference are required to provide a live stream of all home games for all sports when playing teams both within and outside the conference. These streams are run by the university hosting the event. All streams are featured on the conference website and are available for free. The football games broadcast on the web are branded as part of a Big South Network.
|Coastal Carolina||Baseball||Gary Gilmore||2016||Arizona||Pac-12|
- Charleston Southern uses the CSU Field House for all conference basketball games. Home games against local rivals or major-conference teams are played at the North Charleston Coliseum when available.
- Big South Conference (2007-08-01). "Big South Conference History". Big South Sports.
- Big South Conference (2008-07-01). "Gardner–Webb Officially Joins Big South". Big South Sports.
- Big South Conference (2012-01-23). "Big South Conference Adds Longwood University As Full Member". Big South Sports.
- Stretlow, Bret (28 October 2014). "Title race in balanced Big South again tough to predict". The Fayetteville Observer. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
- "Statement from Big South Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander on Coastal Carolina" (Press release). Big South Conference. September 1, 2015. Archived from the original on September 3, 2015. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- "Big South and ASUN Conference Establish FCS Membership Partnership" (Press release). ASUN Conference. September 13, 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- "Fighting Camels football to join Big South in 2018" (Press release). Campbell University. November 14, 2016. Archived from the original on November 15, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- "NCAA Approves Liberty's Waiver Request for FBS Reclassification Process" (Press release). Liberty University Athletics. February 16, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-02-20. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
- "Big South Conference Announces Decision on Liberty's Membership Status" (Press release). Liberty University Athletics. September 22, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- "ASUN Conference Announces Liberty University as League Member for 2018-19" (Press release). ASUN Conference. May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
- Shanesy, Todd (November 15, 2017). "USC Upstate moving to Big South Conference". GoUpstate.com. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Johnson, Dave (November 16, 2017). "Hampton to leave MEAC for Big South". Daily Press. Newport News, VA. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
- "Presbyterian to join Pioneer Football League in 2021". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
- "Presbyterian College to join Pioneer Football League in 2021" (Press release). Pioneer Football League. November 20, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- "Presbyterian to join Pioneer Football League in 2021". FOX Sports. 2017-11-20. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
- "North Carolina A&T to join Big South in 2021". ESPN.com. Associated Press. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
- "Big South Conference Adds Robert Morris University as Football Member" (Press release). Big South Conference. June 15, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- "Big South Announces Football 2021 Spring Schedule" (Press release). Big South Conference. November 9, 2020. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
- "Big South Adds Three Associate Members in Women's Lacrosse" (Press release). Big South Conference. June 7, 2021. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
- "Kennesaw State Football Joins Big South Conference as Associate Member" (Press release). Kennesaw State Athletics. September 4, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2013.