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Conference realignment: USC Upstate to join Big South Conference in 2018-19

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The Spartans will leave the Atlantic Sun after this season.

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina Upstate at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Upstate Spartans will leave the Atlantic Sun and join the Big South for the 2018-19 season, Todd Shanesy of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal first reported.

The move is pending a Dec. 19 vote from the South Carolina Board of Trustees and would be effective July 1, 2018, Shanesy reports.

“We have received notification from the Big South Conference that we have been granted full membership,” said Brendan Kelly, USC Upstate chancellor. “We’ll start next season, which means we’ll be exciting the Atlantic Sun Conference after this season is over. I couldn’t be more pleased about that development because it creates an entirely different experience for out student athletes.”

Upstate has been a part of the Atlantic Sun since it transitioned to Division I in 2007-08. In that time, the Spartans have had just four winning seasons and have not yet made the NCAA Tournament. So far this season, they have dropped a pair of hard-fought buy games and beaten non-D-I school Allen.

In Shanesy’s article, Kelly pointed out the geographic advantage to the Big South, noting that in the Atlantic Sun, the Spartans have just one opponent within 300 miles. In the Big South, all but one other member plays within that radius.

As for the Atlantic Sun, Upstate’s departure will keep the conference’s membership at eight, with transitioning Division I member North Alabama joining in 2018.