I’m pleased to announce that the College of Charleston has accepted an invitation to join the Colonial Athletic Association, beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year.

The College’s Board of Trustees today approved a resolution authorizing the move. This decision comes after many months of research, analysis, and discussion regarding the benefits and risks of leaving the Southern Conference and joining the Colonial. This move is consistent with the goals of our Strategic Plan, and it marks a significant step forward in our efforts to become a national university.

Over the past two or three years, there has been a flurry of activity around the country as nearly 50 colleges and universities have changed their athletic affiliations. Both the Southern Conference and the Colonial have been very much a part of this massive realignment. While no one can say for sure what the future holds for any athletic conference, I strongly believe that we have made the right decision at the right time. Joining a higher-profile conference that includes several nationally recognized universities will help improve the quality and competitiveness of our athletic programs.

I previously shared with you in an email on October 19th some of the athletic-related advantages of joining the Colonial. These benefits include access to stronger conference opponents; increased opportunities for at-large bids to NCAA championship tournaments; and a larger and stronger recruiting pool of student-athletes. In addition, whenever our student-athletes travel to other Colonial campuses to compete, they will have access to many of the same academic support services they would have on our own campus, including study halls, tutoring, computer and wi-fi access, and library services.

Our membership in the Colonial also creates exciting new opportunities for our university outside of athletics. Virtually every area of our university will benefit from this move. Most notably, our marketing, admissions, and fundraising operations will benefit from the College having a presence in larger population centers and larger media markets.

I am particularly excited about the many academic-related benefits of joining the Colonial. Through the Colonial Academic Alliance, our students, faculty and staff will have access to an array of learning, research, study abroad, and professional development programs. The Alliance, which is led by the provosts of the Colonial schools, prides itself on collaboration and resource-sharing among its member institutions. More information about these programs and initiatives is available at www.colonialacademicalliance.org.

As we move to the Colonial, I want to stress that the strong athletic rivalries we have developed with SoCon schools such as The Citadel will not be harmed. We will continue to compete with universities in the Charleston area and throughout South Carolina.

In closing, there are people who deserve our thanks and praise.

First, I want to thank our friends and colleagues in the Southern Conference for their patience over the last seven months.  We have the highest regard for the institutions and people of the SoCon.

Second, I offer my thanks and appreciation for the many people who helped to make this move possible, especially our Board of Trustees, Athletics Director Joe Hull and his staff, and the College’s Executive Team.

Finally, I want to thank those of you who took the time to share your opinions as we considered this important decision. Your interest in and commitment to the success and the future of the College of Charleston is valuable and greatly appreciated.