WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth University announced today that it will accept an invitation to the Big South Conference in the sport of football, effective for the start of the 2014 season.
"We're honored to accept the Big South Conference invitation to become an associate member in football," said Monmouth University President Paul G. Gaffney. "I thank the Big South Presidents and Commissioner for their confidence in Monmouth. New horizons, new challenges bring energy and enable excitement. The Big South is an opportunity for the Hawks to step up."
Monmouth will host a press conference on Friday, February 15 to formally announce the move to the public. The press conference will be streamed free on GoMUHawks.com and on BigSouthSports.com. The press conference will be held on the second floor of the Multipurpose Activity Center, in the Eyas Lounge, at 1 p.m.
"Monmouth is very excited that the Big South has extended an invitation to us as an associate member in football," said Monmouth Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Marilyn McNeil. "We see this move has a huge opportunity for the Hawks. We look forward to our future which will hold some new and exciting competitors, enhanced recruiting, and a focus on football excellence."
"The Big South Conference is excited to expand our football membership with the addition of Monmouth University," said Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander. "It is clear that Monmouth is committed to athletic excellence at the FCS level, which matches its impressive academic and institutional profile. Monmouth will be a great fit in the Big South. We are very pleased to welcome the Hawks!"
Monmouth, which began playing football in the 1993 season, has been a member of the Northeast Conference over the past 16 years, winning five league titles in that span. With the rest of Monmouth's Division I programs joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (which does not sponsor football) in the fall of 2013, MU began searching for a football league which matched its commitment to the sport.
"This is an exciting day for Monmouth football," said head coach Kevin Callahan. "Membership in the Big South is another significant achievement in the history of the program. The direction that we are heading is extremely positive and I am excited about competing with all of our new conference members. The Big South is a conference that sent two programs to the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs in 2012 and this is an important milestone for the Monmouth University Football program."
The Big South, which operates on a full Football Championship Subdivision scholarship model, gained an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Playoffs in 2009. With the addition of Monmouth, the Big South will include seven football playing members including Charleston Southern University, Coastal Carolina University, Gardner-Webb University, Liberty University, Presbyterian College and Virginia Military Institute.
Monmouth, which just celebrated its 20th season of football, has sent a number players to the professional ranks, including three current Hawks in the National Football League (Dallas Cowboy Miles Austin, Buffalo Bill Chris Hogan and Kansas City Chief Jose Gumbs). Callahan, the only coach in Monmouth football history, begins his 21st season ranked 15th among active FCS coaches in wins with 114. The Hawks, which began giving athletic scholarships in football in 2006, have had five All-Americans, over 120 all-conference honorees, 13 Player of the Year award winners and Callahan has been named conference Coach of the Year three times. Monmouth has had three 10-win seasons, most recently in 2006.
In the classroom, Monmouth football has had 13 straight seasons with an Academic All-District selection. Current Hawk Andrew Sutton is a two-time FCS ADA Academic All-Star and a finalist for its post graduate award. This past fall the team's grade point average just missed a 3.0, finishing with a 2.99 GPA. Monmouth football players are no strangers to community service, most recently collaborating with Team IMPACT an organization that enhances the lives of children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by matching them with college athletic teams.
About The Big South Football Conference
The Big South Conference is coming off its 11th season of football in 2012 and arguably its most successful campaign to date. The Conference had two teams qualify for the FCS Playoffs for the first time since receiving an automatic bid in 2010 and picked up two wins in the postseason. The League had the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award in Stony Brook's Miguel Maysonet and notched its third-ever victory over an FBS member. Big South members have defeated three FBS schools in two of the last three years and have made five combined FCS Playoff appearances (3-5 record), while the League has had a nationally-ranked program at some point of the season every year since football began in 2002. In addition, the Big South has had six NFL draft picks (all since 2007) and this past season had an exclusive "Game of the Week" on ESPN3 every week of the Conference season for the first time.
About Monmouth University
Monmouth is a private, mid-sized, coeducational, comprehensive University founded in 1933. It serves residential and commuter students in eight schools and is less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean on the Jersey Shore in West Long Branch, New Jersey. The 156-acre campus features 54 buildings, including historic landmarks and state-of-the-art facilities.
Monmouth, which will play as an independent in 2013, will announce a full schedule for next season in the upcoming weeks.
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