CofC Trustees vote to leave SoCon for CAA

Clyde the Cougar holding a newly branded CAA sign Source: CofC Twitter

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - College of Charleston's Board of Trustees met Friday to determine the fate of the school's athletic affiliation - and decided to leave the SoCon.

In a public vote on a resolution to decide that CofC moves to the Colonial Athletic Association and that all fees owed to the Southern Conference will be paid, the board voted unanimously to pass the resolution.

"This is an important decision and we have taken it seriously," said Board of Trustees Chairman Greg Padgett before the vote.{}

The school will pay the SoCon a $600,000 exit fee and a $300,000 entrance fee to the CAA. However, the revenue stream will increase drastically, according to Athletic Director Joe Hull.

Following the vote, the school's president, P. George Benson, tweeted that he was "pleased to announce" the school was joining the CAA the following fall.{}

Benson added after the vote that the move would also help CofC academically because the degrees the school offers will increase in value.

"We are very excited about joining the Colonial Athletic Association," Benson said. "It is a great fit for the College, both athletically and academically. This move is a significant step forward in the College's efforts to become a{}national university."

Moments after the vote, the CAA issued a release on CofC's decision.

"Speaking for the entire membership, we are extremely excited that the College of Charleston will be joining the CAA," CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said. "We believe their nationally recognized athletic and academic programs will be a great institutional fit with other CAA institutions. Charleston will enhance the competition level in the conference and add to our group of nationally prominent teams in a number of sports. CAA fans will enjoy traveling to Charleston to see their team play, as will Cougar fans and alumni located in CAA cities in many of the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast."

"We are thrilled to welcome the College of Charleston athletic program to the CAA," said UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller, who is the chair of the CAA Council of Presidents. "The Cougars are a terrific fit for the league both athletically and academically, and we are confident that the entire conference will benefit from the addition of such a vibrant, competitive program. The College of Charleston's history of outstanding athletic performance and the enthusiasm of their dedicated fans will add a great deal of spirit to an already competitive conference. We're looking forward to our first match-ups next season - and to a long and lively future of robust match-ups."

The conference also had the first official statement from Hull.{}

"We are very excited to have the opportunity to join an outstanding conference, the Colonial," Hull said. "The Colonial is a high-quality league in so many ways. The competition will be tough, but I believe we will be prepared to compete for conference championships across the board immediately. One of the interesting benefits to this decision is that we are joining a league that has a presence in several of the greatest cities in our nation. Adding our great city of Charleston to that group creates the opportunity to bring tremendous positive recognition to our teams, our program, the College and our area. This is an amazing opportunity for the College of Charleston. I am confident we are up to the challenge."

Hull said after the vote that he was fully confident in the move to the CAA. He added that CofC's coaches voted unanimously in favor of the move as well.

Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino released the following statement regarding Friday's announcement that the College of Charleston Board of Trustees has voted to join the Colonial Athletic Association:

"We're naturally disappointed, but not surprised, by today's decision. Public comments made it apparent that the College of Charleston administration favored this move. Successfully assimilating changes in membership has been part of the Southern Conference's DNA for more than 90 years. With the commitment and cooperation of our Presidents and Chancellors, we will continue to explore the best options available to us to ensure a successful future for our athletic programs and the student-athletes we serve."

Recently, the CAA signed a new five-year, multi-million dollar deal with NBC Sports Group to increase its number of annual national telecasts. The continuing CAA member institutions include four of the top eight largest media markets in the country, while seven of the nine current members are in top 50 markets. The landscape of the conference stretches along the majority of the East Coast and the number of television homes in the CAA market exceeds 20 million.

The College of Charleston has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1998.

"For the past 14 years, the College of Charleston has been a proud member of the Southern Conference," Hull said. "We are grateful for the competition, the friendships and the relationships we have experienced over those years. We wish the best for the Southern Conference going forward."