ROCK HILL, S.C. - The South Atlantic Conference Presidents Council announced today that Coker College and Queens University of Charlotte will join the SAC effective July 1, 2013, following a unanimous vote by the council to approve their applications for membership. Both institutions will begin competition in the conference in the 2013-14 academic year.
The addition of Coker and Queens will increase the number of SAC members to 12 institutions. It marks the conference's first expansion since 2010, when Anderson University joined the league.
Coker, located in Hartsville, S.C., will be the SAC's third member institution from the Palmetto State, while Queens becomes the league's sixth member from North Carolina.
U.S. News and World Report recognized Coker as No. 18 in its 2012 Regional College South Rankings and Queens as No. 21 in its 2012 Regional University South Rankings.
"The South Atlantic Conference is privileged and excited to welcome Coker College and Queens University of Charlotte as members," said Dr. Wayne Powell, chair of the SAC Presidents Council and President at Lenoir-Rhyne University. "Both schools will bring impressive pedigrees to the league.
"The Presidents Council unanimously agreed that the academic and athletic cultures at Coker and Queens are consistent with the vision of the South Atlantic Conference and will mesh seamlessly with our 10 current member institutions."
Coker will compete in 13 of the SAC's 14 championship sports, with football being the lone exception. Queens will participate in all SAC sports except baseball and football.
"On behalf of our Presidents, Athletic Directors, coaches, student-athletes and fans, I am thrilled to welcome two elite academic and athletic institutions in Coker and Queens," said SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz. "We believe that the addition of these two fine schools will enhance the experience of all SAC student-athletes and elevate the visibility and long-term strength of the conference."
Coker has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,200 students and offers 50 areas of study.
The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Schools of Music and the South Carolina Board of Education.
Coker's athletic program produced 20 All-Conference, two Capital One Academic All-District and one Capital One Academic All-America selections in the 2011-12 academic year. The Coker men's golf team captured the 2012 Conference Carolinas championship, and the men's soccer program earned its first-ever NCAA Championship selection last fall.
"The South Atlantic Conference is a signature conference in Division II, and we embrace this opportunity as a vital step in our efforts to expand and enrich Coker College athletics," said Coker President Dr. Robert Wyatt. "I am excited and proud to accept this invitation."
"Looking ahead, the transition into the SAC presents an opportunity to develop our student-athletes on a new level, and we are eager for the start of conference competition in the 2013-14 season," added Coker Athletic Director Dr. Lynn Griffin.
Queens has a student-body population of approximately 2,600 and offers 32 academic majors.
It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, the American Music Therapy Association, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Queens has competed at 34 NCAA National Championships and has had six student-athletes win individual National Championships in the past five seasons. Eight student-athletes from the university were named All-Americans in 2011-12.
The Royals also won Conference Carolinas Tournament titles in women's golf and men and women's cross country this season.
Queens is a three-time winner of the Conference Carolinas Joby Hawn Cup and a five-time recipient of the league's Allan Sharp Award.
"Aligning with the South Atlantic Conference will position Queens to continue strengthening our athletic programs and enhancing the experience for our student-athletes," said Queens President Dr. Pamela Davies. "We are excited to give our student-athletes opportunities to compete at the highest level and look forward to an exciting future as a SAC member."
Added Queens Athletic Director Jeannie King: "It is with great enthusiasm that we join the South Atlantic Conference as a member institution. We have long respected the SAC and feel that the timing is right for Queens University of Charlotte to make this move."
Logistics of Coker and Queens' integration into the SAC, including the possibility of divisional play, will be vetted by the conference's leadership groups in June.