Winston-Salem State jumps to Division I, joins MEAC

Updated: July 19, 2006, 6:03 PM ET
Associated Press

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem State has been accepted into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

A news conference is scheduled Thursday in Virginia Beach, Va., where the conference has its headquarters, to announce the move.

"We are elated to welcome Winston-Salem into the MEAC family," commissioner Dennis Thomas said Wednesday. "Obviously, we think that WSSU is an outstanding academic institution with an excellent athletics program."

Winston-Salem State is jumping to Division I and leaving the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association after more than 50 years.

The Rams will be in transition for four years and won't be eligible for any MEAC championships until 2010-11.

"Our goal is to be become a strong and viable member of the MEAC," athletic director Chico Caldwell said.

Winston-Salem State will become the 12th member of the MEAC, which is expanding for the first time since inviting Norfolk State in 1997, and will play a conference schedule in 2007-08.

School officials hoped to be accepted into the MEAC earlier, but the vote was postponed from mid-June until last week because there weren't enough presidents and chancellors from conference members attending a meeting then.

Caldwell said the school is playing mostly road games during basketball season for guarantees of about $400,000, and will play a MEAC schedule the following season. The Rams won't be eligible for the NCAA tournaments until 2011.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press