May 10, 2012

Huntingdon, Covenant to join USA South

Huntingdon has fielded a football team since 2003 but has only played in a conference for one of those seasons.
Huntingdon athletics photo

Huntingdon president J. Cameron West announced that Huntingdon will join the USA South Athletic Conference beginning in the fall of 2013. Huntingdon and Covenant were approved as members at a meeting of the USA South presidents.

As it stands currently, 2013-14 USA South members will be Averett, Ferrum, Greensboro, Mary Baldwin, Meredith, Methodist, N.C. Wesleyan, William Peace, and the conference's new 2012-13 members, LaGrange, Piedmont and Maryville (Tenn.).

Shenandoah is leaving the USA South for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference at the conclusion of the 2012 spring season. Christopher Newport will leave the USAC following the 2012-13 academic year but will remain a football affiliate through 2015. The departure of Shenandoah, in Northern Virginia, and CNU, in the Tidewater area of the state, gives the USAC a more southern focus.

"We have now achieved the institutional goal of becoming part of an NCAA Division III conference that will enable our athletic teams to participate in conference championship competition leading to qualification for NCAA postseason play," said West. "We have aligned ourselves with a group of institutions who share our values and with whom we already have competitive relationships in many sports. The recent expansion of the USA South into Georgia and Tennessee, and now its expansion into Alabama, strengthens an already strong conference and gives it a broad Division III Southeastern identity."

"This is a great day for Huntingdon College," said football coach Mike Turk, speaking on behalf of the athletic department in the absence of athletic director Buzz Phillips, who has accompanied the women's softball team to NCAA postseason competition in Texas. "And when I say that, I really mean for Huntingdon College, as well as for the football program. We are thrilled to join the USA South. Huntingdon student-athletes have played for many years with limited opportunities in most sports for NCAA postseason competition. Membership in this conference will increase Huntingdon's visibility with prospective student-athletes and will offer new possibilities for our entire athletic program."

The Great South Athletic Conference did not have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in any men's sport.

"We are excited to welcome Huntingdon College to the USA South," said USA South Athletic Conference Commissioner Rita Wiggs in a prepared statement. "Their strong academic profile and commitment to the Division III philosophy for their athletic program makes them a perfect fit for our Conference. Their programs will strengthen and enhance the competition of our league. We look forward to the future with Huntingdon College as a full partner in athletic competition and the development of well-rounded student-athletes."

Huntingdon fields teams in men's baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and track & field; and in women's basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. The USA South Athletic Conference will accommodate conference championship competition for most of Huntingdon's intercollegiate athletic teams, including football. Track & field, men's lacrosse, and women's golf are not offered by the USA South and will remain as independents at this time.

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