Why is Hampton leaving MEAC?

12/8/2017, 5:43 p.m.

Re “HU exits MEAC for Big South Conference,” Free Press Nov. 22-25 edition:

I was disappointed to read about Hampton University’s exit from the MEAC conference for the Big South. First of all, what is the Big South and what teams make up this conference? Why is Hampton leaving MEAC? I am still angry that they left the CIAA.

Hampton University, a charter member of the CIAA, is one of our leading HBCUs that has excelled in academic and educational excellence. As we admire and respect Hampton’s success, I question the motive for the move to the all-white Big South. Class time and travel expenses cannot be the major reason because teams play in tournaments all over the nation. Should Hampton make it to the NCAA tournament and have to play in the West Coast bracket, will they decline because the students will have to miss classes and travel too far?

The issue does not appear to be travel and missed classes, but the university president’s belief that the white conference is better than our HBCU conferences.

The Hampton athletic director also has to find a plausible reason for the exit, saying, “I believe the move will enhance our profile and visibility around the nation and our revenues.”

For the past 22 years, Hampton has had the opportunity to enhance its visibility by making the NCAA Tournament. I believe they have advanced twice in those 22 years. Their advancement brought the school success, fame and prestige. Winning, not changing conferences, brings a school prestige and visibility.

As the article stated, no other conference in the history of athletics was as prestigious as the CIAA. The CIAA had one of the highest tournament attendance and cash revenues in the country.

The CIAA also boasts some of the greatest players and coaches of all times, such as Al Atles (North Carolina); Walt Ward and Rick Mahorn (Hampton); Earl Monroe and Cleo Hill (Winston-Salem State); Bobby Dandridge, Ralph Talley and Johnny Morris (Norfolk State); Ronald “Flip” Murray (Shaw University); Sam Jones (NC Central); Mike Gale and Marvin Trotman (Elizabeth City State); Fred “Curly” Neal (Johnson C. Smith); Charles Oakley, Ben Wallace and Jackie Jackson (VUU).

Great coaches were Clarence “Big House” Gaines (Winston-Salem State), Bobby Vaughn (Elizabeth City State), Ernie Fears, Bob Smith and Charles Christian (NSU) and John McClendon (NCC). The list of greats from this prestigious conference could go on and on.

These teams and players were second to none, regardless of the conference. I researched some of the Big South Conference teams — Liberty, and Radford universities, and others that are not known for their athletic visibility. At any rate, I hope and pray that our other HBCUs will strive to strengthen our institutions and traditions and not abandon our rich heritage as Hampton has done. I thank God for our HBCUs.