SWAC Approves Howard Women's Soccer Membership
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Southwestern Athletic Conference has entered a membership agreement welcoming Howard University into the league for the sport of women’s soccer. The announcement was made following the approval of the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
The Lady Bison will compete in 2013 season as an independent before officially joining the SWAC during the fall of 2014.
Having previously played in the Great West Conference, HU will be eligible to compete during the SWAC Soccer Championship and will have an opportunity to earn the conference's NCAA automatic qualifier in 2015. With the addition of Howard, the SWAC will now feature 11 soccer teams eliminating divisional play. Each team will play an overall conference schedule alternating home games each season.
Howard will play its SWAC home games in Birmingham, Ala. at a venue to be determined at a later date.
“We are pleased to welcome Howard University and its women’s soccer team to the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp added. “They are an amazing university with a strong academic and athletic history. Howard’s athletic programs have strong fan support and the program fits well with the goals we have in place for the sport.”
Howard’s women soccer program started in 1995. Under current head coach Brent Leiba, Howard advanced to the championship game of the 2012 GWC Soccer Tournament as a No. 6 seed. For 2013 season, Howard will face a pair of schools currently in the SWAC. The Lady Bison will travel to Texas Southern for a match-up on September 20 before facing Prairie View A&M on September 22.
“I’m extremely happy to see relationships developing between the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors Chairman Dr. John Rudley. “HBCU fans will have the opportunity to see some of the best in collegiate athletics showcased by these two top tier conferences. Since the inception of women’s soccer in the SWAC, our programs have all made significant strides towards building programs that can compete on both regional and national levels. The addition of Howard University in women’s soccer will undoubtedly enhance the SWAC’s stature and overall visibility in the current competitive landscape of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I soccer.”
The SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously making Howard the first University to join the conference in one sport outside of the league’s original footprint.
"We are excited about our women's soccer team joining the Southwestern Athletic Conference," said Howard University Director of Athletics Louis “Skip” Perkins. "SWAC has been recognized for its competitiveness and commitment to academic excellence. Howard looks forward to entering the conference and contributing to SWAC's traditions of top performance on the field and in the classroom.”
Howard University remains a full active member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in 15 sports while holding memberships with other conferences in women's lacrosse (Atlantic Sun) and men and women's swimming (Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association). Howard men's soccer competes as an independent.