ETSU begins extended withdrawal from SoCon, enters formal talks with Atlantic Sun Conference

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Johnson City, Tenn. (Sept. 10, 2003) - East Tennessee State University president Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. announced on Wednesday that the school's athletic department is beginning an extended withdrawal from the Southern Conference which will end in June of 2005. The Southern Conference Council of Presidents voted on Tuesday to grant ETSU the extended withdrawal, while the program transitions into a new conference. The extended withdrawal will allow the Buccaneers to remain in the league in all sports in which it currently competes (except football) through the end of the 2004-05 season. "We are very appreciative of the Southern Conference granting us this extended withdrawal," Stanton said. "This will provide us with time to find a new conference and it will assist us during the transition period." While this decision ends a 25-year relationship between the Buccaneers and the Southern Conference, ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins said the formal process for joining another conference will begin immediately. "Up until now everything we have done has been on an informal basis as we have shared information with various conference commissioners," Mullins said. "After discussions with these commissioners, our coaches, our administrative staff, and a great deal of research and study, we have decided to begin the formal process for gaining membership in the Atlantic Sun Conference. "Our extensive analysis has led us to believe that the Atlantic Sun Conference is the best fit for the future of ETSU athletics. The strengths of the Atlantic Sun are the kinds of strengths we want to align ourselves with as a department, and there is every indication that this will lead to a beneficial relationship both for East Tennessee State and the Atlantic Sun Conference. We hope to complete the process over the next several weeks." The Atlantic Sun Conference consists of schools with a broad reach throughout the southern United States, including some of the country's largest metropolitan areas and top media markets. These schools include the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida Atlantic University in Miami, Georgia State University in Atlanta, Campbell University near Raleigh/Durham, N.C., Belmont University and Lipscomb University in Nashville, Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla., Stetson University near Daytona, Fla., Mercer University in Macon, Ga., Gardner-Webb University near Charlotte, N.C., and Troy State University in Montgomery, Ala. Atlantic Sun Profile (PDF)