BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- Samford University officially became a member of the Southern Conference on Tuesday.
"This is a great day for Samford University, one that we have anticipated with excitement since we first agreed to become part of the Southern Conference" Samford President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland said. "As we now officially join our academic and athletics programs with those of the outstanding institutions who already are part of the historic SoCon, we look forward to a strong and exciting future together."
Samford will become the 12th member of the conference, joining Appalachian State, College of Charleston, Chattanooga, The Citadel, Davidson, Elon, Furman, Georgia Southern, UNC Greensboro, Western Carolina and Wofford. The conference is based in Spartanburg, S.C., and sponsors championships in 19 sports.
The Southern Conference is the fifth-oldest Division I conference in the country and has been in existence for 86 years. Many current Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference institutions are former members of the Southern Conference. The league boasts the most NCAA Division I Championship Subdivision football national championships with eight, including the last three, won by Appalachian State.
"This day is a culmination of many dreams of Samford alumni and fans, and it speaks volumes about the progression of our athletics program," Roller said. "It also points to the dedication and hard work of many coaches and student-athletes who have worked tirelessly to put us in this position. Competing in the Southern Conference in intercollegiate athletics is a challenge - plain and simple. I have not met one member of our program who does not welcome this challenge. We look forward to working with Commissioner (John) Iamarino and staff in the coming days."
Samford enters the Southern Conference after spending the past five years in the Ohio Valley Conference. In its five seasons in the OVC, Samford claimed 13 team conference titles. Samford also had 10 coaches named league Coach of the Year and 10 student-athletes named either Player or Athlete of the Year. Samford claimed the OVC's Women's All-Sports Trophy in 2004, 2007 and 2008.
Prior to moving to the OVC, Samford was a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference from 1979 until 2003. Samford was also one of the original members of the Dixie Conference, which was founded in 1930. Samford was a member of the league from 1930 until it disbanded 1954.
"We are delighted that Samford University is now the 12th member of the SoCon," said Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino. "Samford's institutional profile is one that is very consistent with those of our current members - strong academics, an unwavering commitment to the welfare and graduation of the student-athlete, combined with a burning desire to operate a successful athletics program within the mission of the institution."
"The addition of Samford benefits the SoCon in many ways," Iamarino said. "It strengthens our efforts in both football and basketball scheduling. It provides a road-swing partner for Chattanooga on the western flank of the Conference. It opens up a significant southern market (Birmingham) to SoCon exposure. Most importantly, it gives us another institution committed to operating a good competitive program while not sacrificing its academic integrity in any manner. Simply put, Samford is going to make the Southern Conference a better league."
Samford's first Southern Conference competition is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 26, when the soccer team plays host to Elon at 7 p.m. The football and volleyball teams open conference play the next day, with football playing at Elon, and the volleyball team traveling to Davidson.
The first home SoCon football game is scheduled for Oct. 11 against three-time defending national champion Appalachian State at 3:30 p.m. The first home conference game for volleyball will be played on Oct. 4 against Appalachian State at 2 p.m.
For information on season tickets, please contact the Samford ticket office at (205) 726-2050, or go to the Samford athletics website at www.samfordsports.com.
Samford will also host the first-ever Southern Conference Fan Fest on Aug. 12 on the Samford campus.
Southern Conference website
Samford Sports website
Seasons story, Summer 2008 issue
Birmingham News story