MEAC Makes It Official, WSSU To Join Conference in 2007-08

By Tony McClean
Updated: July 20, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — What’s been talked about for the last few years officially became true on Thursday morning. The MEAC will expand its membership to 12 members next year, as the league voted to admit Winston-Salem State University into the league beginning in 2007-08.

“We are elated to welcome Winston-Salem into the MEAC family”, said Commissioner Thomas. Obviously we think that WSSU is an outstanding academic institution with an excellent athletics program.”

Winston-Salem is in the second year of its reclassification from Division II to NCAA Division I status. WSSU will begin a full MEAC schedule in all sports beginning in 2007-08. However they will not be eligible for MEAC Championship play until 2010-11.

One of the charter members of the CIAA, Winston-Salem emassed over 40 league championships, including 10 men’s basketball crowns under the legendary head coach, Clarence “Big House” Gaines.

Gaines, the fifth winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, also led the Rams to a Division II National Championship in 1967. His leading scorer that season was future basketball Hall of Famer Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

Winston-Salem Director of Athletics, Dr. Chico Caldwell explained how the move to the MEAC is one of several steps the institution is making in their transition to the next level.

“First of all, as we prepared for the years ahead, and the move to Division I, one of the keys to the puzzle was membership in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference,” said Dr. Caldwell.

“We felt that the opportunity to be a member of the MEAC would afford us a way of rekindling several of our longstanding rivalries and establishing others, and we are happy and pleased that the vote has gone in our favor and we look forward to our future competition in the MEAC.”

The addition of Winston Salem marks the first expansion for the MEAC since 1997, when Norfolk State University became the 11th member of the league. Hampton University joined in 1995.

WSSU becomes the second MEAC institution located in the state of North Carolina and the third in the Carolinas, joining North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro) and South Carolina State (Orangeburg).

“Our goal is to be become a strong and viable member of the MEAC in order to represent well within the conference, both regionally and nationally,” Dr. Caldwell added.

“We truly believe that the MEAC is value-added to the direction of both WSSU and the WSSU Deptartment of Athletics. Everyone here at WSSU, our alumni and supporters are truly excited about this opportunity.”