Conference Carolinas welcomes Francis Marion, UNC Pembroke
Conference Carolinas welcomes Conference Carolinas can now officially welcome Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke as members with the turn of the calendar to the 2021-22 academic year on July 1.
The Conference Carolinas Board of Directors originally voted unanimously in favor of adding Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke as the 12th and 13th members of the NCAA Division II conference in early April of 2020.
Both Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke accepted their invitations to join the league at the time and were unveiled as new members in Conference Carolinas on April 16.
This is UNC Pembroke’s second time as a member of Conference Carolinas (1976-92). UNC Pembroke left Conference Carolinas at the time to join NCAA Division II prior to Conference Carolinas’ transition into the NCAA in the 1995-96 academic year. Francis Marion is joining Conference Carolinas for the first time.
The addition of Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke is a tremendous geographic fit for Conference Carolinas in that it gives the league five member institutions in Eastern North Carolina and South Carolina, which will create a greater geographic balance in the conference and help with scheduling.
“I could not be more excited to officially welcome Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke as members of Conference Carolinas,” Commissioner Chris Colvin said. “This is truly a historic day for everyone associated with Conference Carolinas. Both Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke have more than proven why the decision to add them as members is a strong one over the last year as we have been preparing for their arrival. The future is extremely bright for all involved in Conference Carolinas.”
Francis Marion knows joining Conference Carolinas is important not only for the upcoming academic year but for years to come.
“I am excited about this announcement - for our student-body, our nearly 300 student-athletes, our alumni and fans,” said Francis Marion President Dr. Fred Carter. “We join a conference that includes institutions located closer to home geographically. Less travel time means less time spent out of the classrooms for our students. We are joining what we think is one of the finest Division II conferences in the country - a conference that puts an enormous emphasis on body, mind and soul in the development of student-athletes.”
UNC Pembroke is excited to be back home in Conference Carolinas.
“We are excited to, once U, join Conference Carolinas, where 15 of our 16 sports will compete,” said UNC Pembroke Chancellor Dr. Robin Gary Cummings. “With the farthest trip at 300 miles, this conference is an ideal move for our student-athletes, allowing them to spend less time traveling and more time focusing on their education. And, as we enter a conference with already known rivalries, the experience is sure to bring engagement for fans, at a distance where they can travel to support our Braves on the road. UNCP is committed to providing a championship experience to its more than 400 student-athletes, and Conference Carolinas will provide that stage and more.”
UNC Pembroke Director of Athletics Dick Christy knows that this is a pivotal point in the history of their athletics department for numerous reasons.
“We are extremely excited about what the future holds for #BraveNation as members of Conference Carolinas,” Christy said. “Being a member of Conference Carolinas is not only a good geographic fit for our athletics department, but it will give our student-athletes a chance to spend more time in the classroom, as well as give our fans more opportunities to travel to road competitions and support our programs.”
Francis Marion Director of Athletics Murray Hartzler is thrilled the day is finally here.
“I am pleased that the day has finally arrived when we make the move to our new athletic home,” said Hartzler. “Since the initial announcement in April 2020, we have been making plans for the transition to Conference Carolinas. Leading an intercollegiate athletic department, you are always on the lookout for what can enhance your program, and this move will accomplish that. We are joining a well-established conference more in our location footprint that includes institutions we have been playing on the athletic fields for nearly 50 years. I know that all our student-athletes, coaches, fans and alumni share in my anticipation as we enter the 2021-22 year as a Conference Carolinas member institution.”
Conference Carolinas has a rich tradition in roots that dates back to its inception on Dec. 6, 1930. The NCAA Division II athletics conference presently has member schools located in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Member institutions for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year are Barton, Belmont Abbey, Chowan, Converse, Emmanuel, Erskine, Francis Marion, King, Lees-McRae, Mount Olive, UNC Pembroke, North Greenville and Southern Wesleyan.
Conference Carolinas ability to provide its membership sports sponsorship in 27 sports is the most in all of NCAA Division II. In addition, Conference Carolinas also provides championship opportunities for its member institutions in Esports.