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CIAA keen on member stability
League OK with adding new schools, sports
 
Published Wednesday, March 25, 2020 10:24 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON
The CIAA, which sponsors 14 intercollegiate sports and a nationally-prominent basketball tournament, is open to discuss adding new membership, according to Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams.

The CIAA is relatively stable but always looking to grow.


The Charlotte-based league, the oldest black college athletics organization in the country, has 12 full-time members and Chowan, an associate that competes in football and bowling, in the fold, but Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said adding schools is possible – if the timing’s right.


“We did our feasibility study in 2013 or ’14 – that’s when we started to put our strategic plans in place,” she said at last month’s conference basketball tournament. “Part of our strategic plan was about expansion. We brought Claflin in, we lost Chowan [as a full-time member]. We’ve looked at associate members that will bring in other sports to enhance our other sports. The conversation always stays aboard, it’ll always be a part of our strategic plan.”


The CIAA, which competes in Division II, sanctions 14 sports and a nationally prominent basketball tournament, discontinued its baseball sponsorship last year as the number of schools fielding a team dipped below the NCAA minimum of five. Three schools field soccer programs, two short of the mandate.


League officials have suggested more sports can be added if current members add programs or other schools can be recruited to join.


“I don’t think we ever want to get stagnant,” McWilliams said. “I think we want to make sure we have the sports we need to sponsor for our student athlete experience and the right institutions to be in the mix.”


The CIAA’s footprint, which stretches from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, has no obvious full-time targets among Division II schools in the region after adding former SIAC member Claflin in 2018.


Persistent rumors of defections from the Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which lost Savannah State to the Division II SIAC last year, abound. The MEAC lost Hampton, a founding member of the CIAA in 1912, to the Division I Big South Conference in 2018. North Carolina A&T State, a former CIAA school that helped launch the MEAC in 1970, is following Hampton to the Big South next year.


“Who knows?” McWilliams asked. “Schools make decisions whether they want to come or go. Right now, I think we’re pretty stable. I think our schools love being in this conference and love being in Division II. That’s the bigger thing. It’s a lot of resources to manage when you’re moving from conference to conference and division to division, so from my understanding, our board is very happy about being here but always wants to talk about the opportunity to expand.”

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