The Southern Conference will lose its signature basketball program Tuesday when Davidson leaves for the Atlantic 10.
The same thing is happening at the same time with the conferences top two football programs, with Appalachian State and Georgia Southern departing for the Sun Belt of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
It has been a difficult time for the Southern Conference, entering its 94th year as the fifth-oldest league in the nation.
In addition to losing Davidson, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, the Southern will lose Elon, which will depart Tuesday for the Colonial Athletic Association, the league to which College of Charleston left for last year.
The Football Championship Subdivisions Southern Conference has picked up three new members Mercer, Virginia Military and East Tennessee State to bring its membership back to 11 schools for 2014-15. VMI and East Tennessee both are former Southern Conference schools who have played in other leagues during recent years.
The addition of these three institutions will solidify the Southern Conference and ensure our position as a vibrant league with a bright future, Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino said during 2013. Our membership is excited about rekindling old rivalries and establishing new ones. Most importantly, weve been able to grow while not extending our geographic footprint to an extreme extent.
Appalachian States departure for the Sun Belt caps a years-long attempt by the Mountaineers to move up to FBS. A 2011 feasibility study recommended the football program seek membership in the FBS, but the Mountaineers couldnt do so without an invitation from a conference. Appalachian State received that invitation from the Sun Belt in 2013.
The Mountaineers, winners of consecutive FCS titles in 2005-07, won or shared 10 Southern Conference titles. Georgia Southern, which won six FCS titles, also won or shared 10 league championships.
Another Carolinas school, East Carolina, will leave Conference USA after 17 years on Tuesday to join the American Athletic Conference. The Pirates began playing football in C-USA in 1997 before joining the league as a full-time member in 2001.
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