The MEAC has gone through a lot in 2020.
Between being the last conference tournament to be canceled amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the announced departure of North Carolina A&T, and former member Hampton nearly making it to the canceled NCAA Tournament in their second season in the Big South, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about.
And another major domino appears ready to fall.
The Florida A&M Board of Trustees will vote this week on the school’s membership in the MEAC and a potential move to the SWAC, HBCU Gameday first reported.
In a recently published PDF on the school’s website, a presentation prepared for the Board stated that Florida A&M would benefit from membership in the SWAC, according to a study by Collegiate Sports Partners.
Here are some reasons why, as stated in their findings.
“The MEAC has prohibitive deals in place that don’t benefit the universities that they are supposed to serve (TV, apparel, and sponsorships)”
“The SWAC offers FAMU an opportunity to be in a conference that is operationally stable and set with members who are committed to the long- term stability of the conference.”
“The MEAC has lost multiple member schools since 2017 (Hampton) and NCAT (2020).”
“SWAC distribution is significantly higher than the MEAC ($400,000 annually) - The SWAC offers additional revenue opportunities of $1.4 million that the MEAC cannot offer”
“FAMU leads the MEAC in distance traveled and travel expenses due to no divisional play format in the MEAC.”
“All championships are held in the Northeast region of the country due to the large number of schools near Virginia”
“Sponsorship and licensing accounted for 8.4% in overall revenue for the SWAC with four schools bringing in over $1M”
Once the vote is completed and, presumably, the measure approved, a letter of notice will be sent to the MEAC notifying the league of FAMU’s departure and their acceptance to the SWAC will be waiting.
From a structural context, this move is major. The MEAC and SWAC were established to be HBCU-only conferences at the Division I level. The model mostly worked early in its existence but with Hampton leaving for the Big South, and now North Carolina A&T next year, the MEAC is in deep trouble.
And with the costs of Division I membership so high, it would be easier to lose members right now than gain them. This falls true for Savannah State, which only lasted nine seasons in the MEAC, leaving to return to D-II in 2019. Winston-Salem State only lasted three seasons in the MEAC from 2007 to 2010.
The eyes of MEAC fans will be on Tallahassee, Florida this week.