HBCUs Become a Hot Commodity| CAA Expansion Targets Howard, North Carolina A&T

The Colonial Athletic Association is expanding to 12 full-pledged members and one football-only member after adding three new members.

James Madison is leaving and stepping up to the Football Subdivision Series (FBS). Among the new members is Hampton University, which left the MEAC for the Big South in 2018 and will become the first HBCU to join the CAA.

Monmouth and Stony Brook also left the Big South to join the CAA. The conference isn’t done and is now looking to add more programs and especially HBCUs. They have their sights set on Howard and North Carolina A&T. 

In a press release, Hampton University President William Harvey had this to say about the move. 

“The move to the Colonial Athletic Association is the next step in the evolution of Hampton University athletics. Several institutions in the CAA are located in our geographical footprint, which means that our student-athletes will continue to spend less time traveling and more time in classes on campus.”


CAA Now Targeting Howard and NCA&T: HBCUs Are On Fire

NC A&T, one of the original members of the MEAC, left after 50 years, joining the Big South with Hampton in 2021. That move triggered Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M to leave also but stay within the HBCU realm by joining the SWAC. Now, with Hampton bouncing to the CAA in July of this year, the Big South is down to just five football-playing programs.

The belief is the Aggies are looking to get out and position their program in an up-and-coming conference. 

Aggies athletics director Earl Hilton addressed the grim situation in a presser. 

“That’s something that’s on my mind right now,” he said. 

It’s hard to have a conference with just five participating programs.

As for Howard, they’re mired in the MEAC, which has lost Hampton, NC A&T, Bethune-Cookman and FAMU since 2018. Basically, a school a year has left the once proud conference. With devoted long-standing members Morgan State (50 years), South Carolina State (50 years) and Norfolk State (25 years) not looking to leave the conference, the cupboard is still pretty bare. 

The CAA has set its sights on the Bison, and the path to doing so is pretty seamless. While Howard hasn’t tipped their hand one way or the other, having archrival Hampton in the conference bodes well for getting a commitment from the Bison.


Move Has Benefits For HBCU Schools

In an effort to limit travel, amongst other things, this move would benefit the CAA, Howard and NC A&T. College of Charleston Director of Athletics Matt Roberts talked about the possibility of the move, and the three new teams already added. 

“It’s certainly a great start in the right direction, a good proactive start in the right direction. It will help us grow and be more competitive athletically. … And another goal in this process is to have more ease of travel, to eliminate some of the flights that teams have to take, and this expansion will allow for that.”

Deion Sanders Effect On The Movement


In a short time, Sanders has used his platform to bring more visibility and exposure to HBCUs. Playing in a conference with the pedigree of the CAA will only enhance the visibility for the joining HBCU programs. Their student-athletes also have a better chance of being seen and going pro in the Colonial Athletic Association. Sometimes the route less traveled is the one needed to get where you want to go, and that could be the case for Hampton, Howard and NCA&T in the CAA.

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