CCU outgrows Big South, mulls move to CAA, SoCon

Coastal Carolina University’s athletic programs have been moving on up for the past decade.

Now it looks like the Chanticleers may be moving on out of the Big South Conference.

The school is having serious discussions about leaving the league it co-founded a quarter-century ago for a higher level of competition.

Although a similar potential move to the Southern Conference fell through a few years ago, the Chants now have added the Colonial Athletic Association to their wish list. Either conference would be a big step up in class.

The CAA includes Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Georgia State, Hofstra, James Madison, Northeastern, Old Dominion, Towson, Virginia Commonwealth, William & Mary and UNC Wilmington, which would create a natural rival with the Seahawks just 60 miles up the coast.

But the conference is heavily concentrated farther north up the Eastern Seaboard, which would involve creating new rivalries from scratch and require a significant increase in the school’s travel budget.

If only the school had a wealthy, influential individual on its staff to help make the move more financially feasible … like maybe a new football coach. It already appears the football program is recruiting heavily on the CAA’s turf.

Competing for a conference championship in football would become a lot more difficult among some FCS power programs, as it would in every other sport. But truth be told, Coastal has outgrown the Big South and needs to step up in class.

Consider the progress Coastal’s athletic programs have made over the past decade, particularly the two “revenue” sports. Rewind your mind to 2002 when the Chants’ first football team and Brooks Stadium were still works in progress and the men’s basketball program hadn’t had a winning season since being devastated by NCAA sanctions in 1994.

The baseball program was just beginning to flex its muscle under Gary Gilmore, but no one had heard of Coastal back then. The men’s soccer program was trying to survive losing its field and some funding while the “real football” team was being founded, the golf programs were failing to live up to their potential and many of the women’s teams were mired in mediocrity.

Now the football program is well-established, with four conference championships and two playoff appearances to its credit, and boasts some of the best facilities in the FCS. The men’s basketball team has returned to national prominence under Cliff Ellis and will move into a much-needed new arena next season.

The baseball team is once again expected to compete for a trip to Omaha, the nationally ranked men’s soccer team lost in a shootout to NCAA tournament champion North Carolina in the second round, the golf programs have produced Dustin Johnson and currently compete with the nation’s elite and the women’s programs have become more competitive in virtually every sport.

So it should come as no surprise that the Chants are at least looking to leave the roost it has so obviously outgrown. The Big South was perfect for Coastal for the first quarter-century, but it seems destined for bigger things in the future.

And those bigger things can only happen in a bigger conference.

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One response to “CCU outgrows Big South, mulls move to CAA, SoCon”

  1. MCChantFan says:

    PLEASE!!!! Let this happen! As the conference expands it only dilutes some of ours teams (i.e. baseball) with weaker opponents by turning respect getting out of conference games into creampuff conference ones.

    In football, the Big South Commish says “don’t fear losing teams”. We already know Liberty is on a plan to go fullblown Div I (FBS) soon. If Stony Brook ever comes to it’s senses and re-aligns back north, then the BS loses it’s auto-bid.

    We need to make this happens to ensure stability and growth before we’re stuck back in the stone ages.

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