EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. – The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously approved a recommendation that the university join the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), perhaps the most prominent athletics conference in the nation among Football Championship Series (FCS) institutions.
In making the presentation that prompted the vote, Athletics Director Earl Hilton offered a compelling case that the CAA represents where North Carolina A&T stands, academically and athletically, as a highly competitive doctoral research university. “We are pleased to be joining a conference of similarly focused institutions,” said BOT Chairwoman Hilda Pinnix-Ragland.
All board members voted “yes” in a formal, voice tally, after having received Thursday’s 8-0 vote of support from the Executive Committee and a 20-slide presentation from Hilton.
All North Carolina A&T sports teams and student athletes will begin competing in the CAA as of July 1, 2022, except football and bowling. Football will move July 1, 2023, to avoid impact on the Big South Conference’s automatic qualifier status for participation in the FCS post-season playoffs. Bowling, which never left the Mid-Eastern Athletics Conference (MEAC), will maintain that affiliation.
“What a historical week for A&T,” exclaimed Pinnix-Ragland, referencing not just to the conference change, but also the grand opening Thursday of the $100-million Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex and multiple reports of major institutional progress at Friday’s meeting. “Based on what we saw today, it’s not going to stop. …We’re in for a great ride.”
Despite the geographic diversity of conference members, the new affiliation promises to enhance student athlete welfare and keep financial costs low through North and South divisions. A&T’s competition will largely be limited to South Division campuses, all of which are located in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia (in football, Maryland-based Towson University will also compete in the South Division).
The CAA also benefits from the location of multiple member campuses in national media markets, such as Boston and Philadelphia.
CAA opened a dialogue with A&T in November 2021 and subsequently extended an invitation to join. A&T informed the CAA and the Big South that it would evaluate the invitation “in a deliberate and data-driven manner.”
Over the past two months, that evaluation has taken place through an exhaustive compilation of data, interviews with students, athletics staff, alumni, boosters and Hall of Fame members and additional fact finding. Support among A&T athletics constituents for the move was strong.