Big South invites Monmouth as football member in 2014

The Big South Conference has added Monmouth University as an associate member in football, it was announced Wednesday by Big South Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander.

Monmouth will begin competing in the Big South in 2014 and will be eligible for the league’s championship and automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs upon entry.

“The Big South Conference is excited to expand our football membership with the addition of Monmouth University,” said Kallander.  “It is clear that Monmouth is committed to athletic excellence at the FCS level, which matches its impressive academic and institutional profile.  Monmouth will be a great fit in the Big South.  We are very pleased to welcome the Hawks!”

The addition of Monmouth will return the Big South to seven Division I Football Championship Subdivision members in 2014, joining Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Liberty, Presbyterian College and VMI.

The Hawks’ associate membership is for four years and returns the Conference to the New Jersey-New York metropolitan area following the departure of former associate member Stony Brook.

Monmouth, which has competed at the FCS level as a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC) since 1996, will make the necessary upgrades to meet the requirements of being a full scholarship FCS program in 2014.  The Hawks will compete as an Independent in 2013 and will play at Liberty on Sept. 7.

Monmouth, which began playing football in 1993, won five NEC championships (1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006) and went 5-5 last year with a 4-3 mark in league play.  Among the Hawks’ notable wins in recent seasons include victories over Villanova in 2011 and Old Dominion in 2009.

Monmouth is coached by Kevin Callahan, the only coach in the school’s football history.  He begins his 21st season in 2013 ranks 15th among active FCS coaches with 114 wins.  The Hawks, which began giving athletic scholarships in football in 2006, have had five All-Americans, more than 120 All-Conference honorees, 13 Player of the Year award winners and Callahan has been named conference Coach of the Year three times. Monmouth has had three 10-win seasons, the last coming in 2006.

“Monmouth is very excited that the Big South has extended an invitation to us as an associate member in football,” stated Monmouth Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Marilyn McNeil.  “We see this move as a huge opportunity for the Hawks.  We look forward to the future which will hold some new and exciting competitors, enhanced recruiting, and a focus on football excellence.”

The rest of Monmouth’s Division I programs are joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which does not sponsor football, in the fall of 2013.

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