FAMU will be an official SWAC member on July 1, 2021
The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees (BOT) has approved the University’s move to join the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), beginning with the 2021-22 academic year.
The move was approved by SWAC member schools 10-0 Thursday afternoon.
“While we have had a long-standing relationship competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Florida A&M’s impending move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference is one that is in the best interest of the University,” FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “The positive impacts on student athletes, cost savings, re-establishment of long-term rivalries and opportunities to generate revenue are among the key factors in this decision.”
The BOT voted Thursday morning to switch athletic conferences from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) to the SWAC, acting on a study and recommendation from its Athletics Assessment Committee. The committee approved the recommendation on Wednesday.
“Today is a defining moment in the history of Florida A&M University and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Our decision to explore this move to the SWAC was the result of exhaustive internal and external collaboration,” said Vice President and Athletics Director Kortne Gosha, who thanked BOT members and alumni and others for their support of the move. “I firmly believe that we have collectively positioned FAMU to reach our ultimate potential and further enhance the student-athlete experience.”
The Rattlers will continue to compete in the MEAC through the end of the 2020-21 academic year before joining member institutions in the SWAC from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, the conference will accommodate all 14 NCAA Division I-sponsored sports currently offered at FAMU. Gosha said FAMU appreciates the leadership of MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas and all that the conference has done for FAMU and Division I HBCU athletics.
“We hold dear the relationships with our MEAC peer institutions, and we wish them continued success,” he said in a statement.
The SWAC, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., includes Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Grambling State, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, Prairie View A&M, Southern University, Texas Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
FAMU has a rich tradition against members of the SWAC, including rivalries with Alabama State, Grambling State Jackson State and Southern.
The university’s athletics history dates back to 1907 as an independent member. FAMU remained independent until 1925 and joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) from 1926-1978. The university left the SIAC for the MEAC in 1979, but only stayed in the conference until 1983. FAMU became an NCAA Division I Independent from 194-1985, before rejoining the MEAC in 1986.
FAMU has won 15 Black College Football National Championships, including last year. FAMU also holds the distinction of the being the first and only HBCU to win the FCS National Championship (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) in 1978. On the hardwood, FAMU men’s basketball has won four conference championships and made three NCAA National Tournament Appearances, the last being in 2007.
Among the notable FAMU athletic alumni are former Major League Baseball great Vince Coleman, MLB Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, tennis legend Althea Gibson, Olympic Gold Medalist “Bullet” Bob Hayes, former MLB player and manager Hal McRae, former NFL and Super Bowl winner Nate Newton and former NFL player Ken Riley.
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