Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) is a collegiate athletic conference whose full members are historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Southeastern and the Mid-Atlantic United States. It participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Division I, and in football, in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
|Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference|
|Region||South Atlantic, Middle Atlantic|
|Commissioner||Dennis E. Thomas (since 2002)|
Currently, the MEAC has automatic qualifying bids for NCAA postseason play in baseball (since 1994), men's basketball (since 1981), women's basketball (since 1982), softball (since 1995), men's and women's tennis (since 1998), and volleyball (since 1994). Bowling was officially sanctioned as a MEAC governed sport in 1999. Before that season, the MEAC was the first conference to secure NCAA sanctioning for women's bowling by adopting the club sport prior to the 1996–97 school year. Due to the departures of Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T from the conference, and North Carolina Central discontinuing baseball, the MEAC is at risk of losing it's automatic qualifier for the sport. Currently, the league has been granted a two-year waiver from the NCAA to add teams in order to reach the mandated minimum number of six teams.
In 1969, a group, whose members were long associated with interscholastic athletics, met in Durham, North Carolina with the purpose of discussing the organization of a new conference. After the formulation of a committee, and their research reported, seven institutions: Delaware State University, Howard University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University and South Carolina State College agreed to become the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. South Carolina State had been a longtime member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the other charter members had been longtime members of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
The conference's main goals were to establish and supervise an intercollegiate athletic program among a group of educational institutions that shared the same academic standards and philosophy of co-curricular activities and seek status as a Division I conference for all of its sports.
The conference was confirmed in 1970, and had its first season of competition in football in 1971. The MEAC has had to date, three full-time commissioners. In 1978, the MEAC selected its first full-time commissioner, Kenneth A. Free, who served as Commissioner until he resigned in 1995. He was succeeded by Charles S. Harris, who served at the position until 2002. On September 1, 2002, Dennis E. Thomas became the conference's commissioner.
The MEAC experienced its first expansion in 1979 when Bethune–Cookman College (now Bethune–Cookman University) and Florida A&M University were admitted as new members. That same year, founding members Morgan State University, North Carolina Central University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore withdrew from the conference. All three schools eventually returned to the conference; Maryland Eastern Shore rejoined in 1981, Morgan State in 1984, and North Carolina Central in 2010.
On June 8, 1978, the MEAC was classified as a Division I conference by the NCAA. Prior to that year, the league operated as a Division II conference. The following month the MEAC received an automatic qualification to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
In 1984, membership in the MEAC again changed as Florida A&M chose to leave. The university would return to the conference two years later. Coppin State College, now Coppin State University, joined the conference in 1985. The MEAC would find stability in membership with the addition of two HBCUs in Virginia, Hampton University and Norfolk State University in 1995 and 1997, respectively. For the next 10 years, the MEAC would remain an 11-member conference. In 2007, former CIAA member Winston-Salem State University was granted membership, but announced on September 11, 2009, that it would return to Division II at the end of 2009–10 and apply to return to the CIAA before ever becoming a full member of the MEAC.
North Carolina Central University rejoined the conference effective July 1, 2010. NCCU was one of seven founding member institutions of the MEAC, but withdrew from the conference in 1979, opting to remain a Division II member when the conference reclassified to Division I.
Savannah State University was announced as the newest member of the MEAC on March 10, 2010. Savannah State originally applied for membership into the MEAC in 2006 but faced an NCAA probationary period soon after. Membership was then deferred until the completion of the imposed probation period, which ended in May 2009. Savannah State then resubmitted their application for membership again in 2009 and was finally granted probationary membership status. On September 8, 2011, the university was confirmed as a full MEAC member.
While the MEAC has had no new full members since then, the conference added an associate member in 2014 when Augusta University, then known as Georgia Regents University, a Division II institution with Division I programs in men's and women's golf, joined for men's golf. Augusta became the MEAC's first associate member and first non-HBCU with any type of membership. The conference has since added two more non-HBCU associate members, with Monmouth University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) joining for bowling in 2018.
In April 2017, Savannah State announced that it would drop to Division II effective with the 2019–20 school year. In November 2017, Hampton announced they would leave the MEAC to join the Big South Conference beginning with the 2018–19 season.
In February 2020 North Carolina A&T announced departing MEAC to join Big South Conference effective July 2021. Within few months, in June 2020, Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman also announced that they will leave the MEAC and join the SWAC starting in July 2021. As a result, the MEAC will have eight members remaining for 2021. The MEAC has hired a consulting firm to help assess its current schools and to help it identify potential institutions for addition to the conference. The conference plans to operate with eight current members, starting 2021 until further expansion, in a compact geographical footprint removing North and South divisions.
In May 2021, multiple websites that report on HBCU sports indicated that the MEAC had reached out to two Division II HBCUs about their interest in transitioning to D-I and joining the MEAC. Kentucky State University and Virginia State University, respectively members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, confirmed that they had discussed possible membership with the MEAC and had commissioned feasibility studies on moving to Division I. Officials at both schools stated that they were considering the move, but would not commit to any change. One report also indicated that Chicago State University, a predominantly African-American school but not an HBCU, had lobbied the MEAC regarding membership. CSU is scheduled to leave the Western Athletic Conference, a league in which it is a major geographic outlier, in July 2022. According to this report, the MEAC had offered CSU associate membership in one sport, but was lukewarm to CSU becoming a full member because it does not sponsor football and is well outside the MEAC's geographic footprint.
|Coppin State University||Baltimore, Maryland||1900||1985||Public||2,348||Eagles|
|Delaware State University||Dover, Delaware||1891||1970||Public||4,768||Hornets|
|Howard University||Washington, D.C.||1867||1970||Private||9,399||Bison/Lady Bison|
|University of Maryland Eastern Shore||Princess Anne, Maryland||1886||1970,
|Morgan State University||Baltimore, Maryland||1867||1970,
|Norfolk State University||Norfolk, Virginia||1935||1997||Public||5,601||Spartans|
|North Carolina Central University||Durham, North Carolina||1910||1970,
|South Carolina State University||Orangeburg, South Carolina||1896||1970||Public||2,479||Bulldogs/Lady Bulldogs|
|North Carolina A&T State University||Greensboro, North Carolina||1891||2021,
|12,754||Aggies||bowling (w)||Big South|
(NCAA Division I)
|Monmouth University||West Long Branch, New Jersey||1933||2018||6,395||Hawks||bowling (w)||MAAC|
(NCAA Division I)
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham, Alabama||1966||20,902||Blazers||Conference USA|
(NCAA Division I)
|Bethune–Cookman University||Daytona Beach, Florida||1904||1979||2021||Private||Wildcats||SWAC|
(NCAA Division I)
|Florida A&M University||Tallahassee, Florida||1887||1979–1984, 1986-2003
(NCAA Division I)
|Hampton University||Hampton, Virginia||1868||1991||2018||Private||Pirates||Big South|
(NCAA Division I)
|Savannah State University||Savannah, Georgia||1890||2010||2019||Public||Tigers and Lady Tigers||SIAC|
(NCAA Division II)
|Winston-Salem State University||Winston-Salem, North Carolina||1892||2007||2010||Rams||CIAA|
(NCAA Division II)
- Winston-Salem State University was a transitional member and never attained full membership in the MEAC or NCAA Division I before returning to Division II and the CIAA after the 2009–2010 school year. They were scheduled to begin full membership and gain access to NCAA tournaments in 2011.
Former associate membersEdit
|Augusta University||Augusta, Georgia||1785||2014||2021||Public||Jaguars||Golf (M)||Peach Belt
(NCAA Division II)
(NCAA Division I)
Full members Full members (non-football) Associate members Other Conference Other Conference
- Maryland Eastern Shore was a founding member of the MEAC in 1970 and left after the 1978–79 school year. In 1980, UMES dropped football, and returned to the MEAC the next year as a full member that no longer had a football program.
- Florida A&M left the MEAC completely for one season in 1985 and competed as an NCAA D-I Independent after a disagreement with the MEAC office over the playing of the rivalry game between Florida A&M and Bethune–Cookman University when FAMU refused to play conference mate BCU at a neutral site in Tampa in 1983 and the game was not played again in 1984. Florida A&M returned all sports to the MEAC in the 1986 season. FAMU football left the conference in the 2004 season during an attempt to move up to Division I-A (now FBS) with all other sports remaining in the MEAC. Financial difficulties halted the move after the 2004 season, at which time FAMU football returned to the MEAC.
- Winston-Salem State was a transitional member from 2007 to 2010, but never attained full MEAC membership nor full membership in Division I. The school was scheduled to gain full membership after the 2009–2010 school year, but due to financial difficulties, returned to the CIAA in Division II before then.
|School||Football stadium||Capacity||Basketball arena||Capacity||Baseball stadium||Capacity|
|Coppin State||Non-football school[Notes 5]||Physical Education Complex||4,100||Joe Cannon Stadium||1,500|
|Delaware State||Alumni Stadium||7,193||Memorial Hall||1,800||Soldier Field||500|
|Howard||William H. Greene Stadium||10,000||Burr Gymnasium||2,700||Non-baseball school|
|Maryland Eastern Shore||Non-football school[Notes 6]||Hytche Athletic Center||5,500||Hawk Stadium||1,000|
|Morgan State||Hughes Stadium||10,000||Talmadge L. Hill Field House||4,000||Non-baseball school|
|Norfolk State||William "Dick" Price Stadium||30,000||Joseph G. Echols Memorial Hall||4,500||Marty L. Miller Field||1,500|
|North Carolina Central||O'Kelly–Riddick Stadium||10,000||McDougald–McLendon Gymnasium||3,000||Non-baseball school|
|South Carolina State||Oliver C. Dawson Stadium||20,000||SHM Memorial Center||3,000||Non-baseball school|
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) sponsors championship competition in eight men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned sports:
|Track and field (indoor)||8||8|
|Track and field (outdoor)||8||8|
Men's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
|Football||Golf||Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference which are played by MEAC schools:
|School||Soccer||Swimming & Diving|
Women's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
|Softball||Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
- Bowling associates Monmouth, North Carolina A&T, and UAB.
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference which are played by MEAC schools:
|School||Beach Volleyball||Equestrian[a]||Golf||Lacrosse||Soccer||Swimming & Diving|
|Delaware State||—||ECAC/ NCEA||Southland||ASUN||IND||—|
|Howard||1||1971[Notes 7] • 1974|
|Florida A&M (FAMU)||1||1978|
|North Carolina A&T||1||2015|
|Maryland-Eastern Shore||3||2008 • 2011 • 2012|
The MEAC, along with the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), are the only two Division I conferences whose members are mostly Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In 2015, the MEAC, joined the SWAC and Ivy leagues in abstaining from sending their conference champions to the FCS Playoffs. While the conference champion faces off in the Celebration Bowl against the SWAC Champion, the remaining conference members remain eligible for at-large bids for the playoffs.
This is a partial list of the last 10 champions. For the full history, see List of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football champions.
- Norfolk State's 2011 MEAC football championship was vacated as a result of NCAA Violations.
- As a result of the MEAC football tierbreaker, Morgan State earned the conference's Automatic bid for the FCS Playoffs.
- In July 2020, the MEAC announced that it would cancel its fall sports seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced the league would explore the possibility of playing in the spring. The conference later released a spring schedule, but had to suspend indefinitely, per league bi-laws, when six of the nine football playing schools had opted out of playing.
Celebration Bowl resultsEdit
|Year||MEAC Team||SWAC Team||Attendance||Series|
|2015||North Carolina A&T Aggies||41||Alcorn State Braves||34||35,528||MEAC 1–0|
|2016||North Carolina Central Eagles||9||Grambling State Tigers||10||31,096||Tied 1–1|
|2017||North Carolina A&T Aggies||21||Grambling State Tigers||14||25,873||MEAC 2–1|
|2018||North Carolina A&T Aggies||24||Alcorn State Braves||22||31,672||MEAC 3–1|
|2019||North Carolina A&T Aggies||64||Alcorn State Braves||44||32,968||MEAC 4–1|
On June 8, 1980, the MEAC earned the classification as a Division I conference by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Since 1981, the MEAC has received a qualifying bid to NCAA post season play in the sport of basketball. In three cases, MEAC schools seeded 15th (Coppin State in 1997, Hampton in 2001, Norfolk State in 2012) defeated second-seeded teams South Carolina, Iowa State and Missouri, respectively, in the NCAA tournament.
Coppin State again made history, as it qualified for the tournament as the first 20-loss team to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Tournament performance by schoolEdit
|North Carolina A&T||16||1972,1973,1975,1976,1978,1979,1982,1983,1984,1985,1986,1987,1988,1994,1995,2013|
|South Carolina State||5||1989,1996,1998,2000,2003|
|North Carolina Central||4||2014,2017,2018, 2019|
|Season||Regular season champion(s)||Tournament champion|
|1973||South Carolina State|
|1974||North Carolina A&T|
|1978||No Records Available|
|1979||No Records Available|
|1980||No Records Available|
|1981||No Records Available|
|1982||No Records Available|
|1983||No Records Available|
|1993||North Carolina A&T|
|2005||North Carolina A&T||North Carolina A&T|
|2013||Delaware State||Savannah State|
|2018||North Carolina A&T|
|Norfolk State |- |2020
- Maryland-Eastern Shore wasn't part of the MEAC between the 1979–80 and the 1980–81 seasons.
- Morgan State wasn't part of the MEAC between the 1979–80 and the 1983–84 seasons.
- North Carolina Central wasn't part of the MEAC between the 1979–80 and the 2009–10 seasons.
- When North Carolina A&T moved to Big South its women's bowling team remained an associate member of the MEAC.
- Coppin State has a club football team that competes in the Mid Atlantic Conference of the National Club Football Association. This team does compete at an on campus facility.
- Maryland Eastern Shore has a club football team that competes in the Mid Atlantic Conference of the National Club Football Association. The team does have an on campus field but does not have seating.
- Howard was later disqualified from their 1971 NCAA soccer championship; however, no team was ever announced as the new champion.
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