Coastal Carolina, a charter member of the Big South, is leaving the conference to join the Sun Belt as its 12th member. CCU will join the FBS conference starting in 2016-17, the school announced.
That will leave the FCS Big South with 10 full-time members. Only four play football. The conference will drop to six football teams, including associate members Kennesaw State and Monmouth.
“While the Big South Conference is disappointed in Coastal Carolina’s departure, we recognize that membership movement is a normal part of the current environment in Division I athletics,” Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander said. “The Big South has seen relatively little membership change recently, and is confident on its ongoing stability.”
VMI left for the Southern Conference in 2014, but only five other schools have left the Big South in the past 20 years — Birmingham Southern (2007), Elon (2003), Maryland-Baltimore County (1998), UNC Greensboro (1997) and Towson (1995).
Charleston Southern (Baptist College), Radford and Winthrop are the remaining charter members from the 1983 start. Campbell, a charter member, left the conference but rejoined in 2011. UNC Asheville joined in 1984.
Expansion candidates include Kennesaw State, which competes in all other sports in the Atlantic Sun. Division II teams are another possibility.
Presbyterian College moved up from Division II to join the conference in 2007. Armstrong State and Augusta State (now Georgia Regents University) were charter members of the Big South and now compete in the Division II Peach Belt Conference.
Where should the Big South turn? We want to know what you think.