The South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Council of Presidents has approved a football scheduling agreement with the University of North Carolina Pembroke. The agreement is for four years and will begin with the 2017 football season.
The scheduling agreement will benefit both the SAC and UNC Pembroke, conference and university officials said in a joint press release issued Tuesday morning. The eight SAC member institutions which sponsor football programs will now have another common in-region opponent, while it gives the Braves an opportunity to play a complete schedule against NCAA Division II opponents.
The Braves will continue to compete as a member of the Peach Belt Conference in 14 of its other 15 varsity sports. Wrestling remains unaffiliated with a conference.
“The football-playing members of the South Atlantic Conference are very appreciative of the ability to play another strong, in-region opponent on an annual basis starting in 2017,” said South Atlantic Conference Commissioner Patrick Britz. “Chancellor Carter and Athletics Director Dick Christy are great leaders and the SAC looks forward to working with UNCP for the next several years.”
UNC Pembroke is within 375 miles of all eight SAC football-playing institutions, which will likely reduce travel expenses for both the Braves and SAC members. The agreement also stipulates that UNCP will not be eligible for the SAC championship, nor will its student-athletes be eligible for preseason or postseason all-conference honors. In addition, contests against UNCP will not be counted as conference games.
“We are extremely pleased to enter into an affiliation agreement with the South Atlantic Conference for football,” said UNCP Chancellor Kyle R. Carter. “The SAC is comprised of schools that promote academic quality and a strong commitment to NCAA Division II athletics - both attributes that complement UNC Pembroke’s own values. Since we reintroduced football in 2006, we have competed regularly against SAC schools as part of our regular season schedule. Those contests have always produced intense competition, strong sportsmanship and respect across each side of the line of scrimmage. I can’t think of a better conference for our football program to be allied with.”
The South Atlantic Conference is one of the premier NCAA Division II conferences in the country and strives for academic success and athletic achievement. Since becoming eligible for NCAA Division II postseason play in 1993, the league has sent representatives from all of its sponsored sports to NCAA postseason play.
The members of the South Atlantic Conference include: Anderson University in Anderson, S.C.; Brevard College, Brevard, N.C.; Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tenn.; Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C.; Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C.; Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tenn.; Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, N.C.; Newberry College, Newberry, S.C.; Tusculum College, Greeneville, Tenn.; and Wingate University, Wingate, N.C.; and Coker College in Hartsville, S.C.
Anderson, Coker and Lincoln Memorial do not play football.
“I cannot thank the South Atlantic Conference leadership and commissioner Pat Britz enough for their collective willingness to visit, brainstorm and discuss this partnership over the past 18 months,” said UNCP Director of Athletics Dick Christy. “Their dialogue was honest and invaluable as we discussed what a proposed alliance might look like. UNC Pembroke will always be indebted to Chancellor Carter for his dedication to guide this partnership forward, as well as Dan Kenney for establishing our strong relationship with the SAC years ago. This is an exciting time for Braves Football.”