North Carolina A&T State University shook the Black college sports world when it made the decision to leave the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference for the Big South. That decision is a huge blow for HBCU sports.
It also left the HBCU sports world divided. On one hand, people understood the move for a program that has been the cream of the crop in the MEAC and HBCU athletics. The football team has won four of the last five HBCU national championships. With the Aggies’ last win against Alcorn State cemented a three-peat for NCAT.
But others are upset with the decision because the Aggies are leaving behind the HBCU tradition. Even former NCAT players are upset with the decision.
Now I understand the decision for NCAT going to the Big South. it allows them to be able to compete in the FCS playoffs if they win the conference. Plus, you have the chance to get more exposure for HBCUs for a chance to compete with the rest of FCS. However, NCAT had the chance to state their case differently. Back in 2019, they scheduled a football game against North Dakota State to be played this season. We’re talking about the current FCS champions who just completed a three-peat of their own this past season.
Now let’s pull out my hypothetical magic ball and say the Aggies will beat the Bisons on the road in North Dakota. Wouldn’t that lead to a conversation of allowing the winners of the HBCU championship to be included in the FCS playoffs?
It’s better than just departing the MEAC to make that conversation. Back in 2017 Hampton made the jump to the Big South, and it hasn’t fielded the greatest results. They went 5-7 last year while finishing fourth in the conference securing only one win in the Big South.
Another reason this move was made is the economic aspect.
We all know that athletic programs at HBCUs every dollar counts. The Big South has 11 members, and all of them reside in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The cost of travel will be cheaper but a school like A&T which has an efficient athletics program should be fine with their current travel expenses within the MEAC. Especially considering the MEAC and SWAC (Southwest Athletic Conference) representatives receive $1 million and the Aggies have represented the MEAC in four out of the five years since the Celebration Bowl game has been in existence.
NCAT could have had the chance to be standard-bearers this season for HBCUs by possibly taking down the current national champions. This would leave a possibility for HBCUs to be in the playoff conversation. But unfortunately, due to the move, we may never get that chance.