Once upon a time, the ACC and Big East were more or less equals. The ACC owned the southern half of America’s Eastern seaboard, and the Big East owned the northern half. Today, the Big East no longer exists (as a football entity) and the ACC owns the entire coast.
A similar dynamic has now played out at the HBCU level. After taking Florida A&M from the MEAC earlier this month, the SWAC has completed its destiny by adding Bethune-Cookman.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome Bethune-Cookman University to the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland. “The Wildcats undoubtedly align with our core principles and strategic plan; and they also align with our overall vision and forward movement within our strategic plan. The addition also brings to our league an institution with academic prowess, a world-renowned marching band, along with an enthusiastic base of alumni, fans and supporters.”
“Bethune-Cookman’s move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference is one that is clearly in the best interest of the University, particularly during this major shift in higher education and intercollegiate athletics,” said President Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite. “We believe this is a logical next step in the evolution of our University. Moreover, it reflects our commitment to strengthening the University’s long-term competitiveness and viability, while providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes.”
The Daytona Beach, Fla., based school will give FAMU a Sunshine State neighbor. The addition of both schools will presumably kick Alcorn State, located near the Louisiana-Mississippi border in Lorman, Miss., to the SWAC’s West Division to make room for Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman in the East.
Presumed New SWAC Alignment
Mississippi Valley State
Prairie View A&M
The loss of Bethune-Cookman is a crippling blow to the MEAC, who is about to lose its fourth member to greener pastures over the past three years. Hampton left for the Big South in 2018, and North Carolina A&T is on its way out to the Big South as well. (Savannah State also left the MEAC to drop down to Division II in 2019.)
The loss of B-CU gives the MEAC just six football-playing members.
Editor’s note: This article was revised after publishing.