SPARTANBURG, S.C. - - Belmont University has accepted an invitation to join the Southern Conference as an associate member for men's soccer beginning in Fall 2018, SoCon Commissioner John Iamarino announced Monday.
The Bruins will complete their affiliate membership in the Horizon League for the 2017 campaign before joining current SoCon member institutions sponsoring men's soccer: ETSU, Furman, Mercer, UNCG, VMI and Wofford.
Belmont will be eligible to vie for conference championships and NCAA Tournament bids immediately.
"This is an exciting day for our university, athletic department and men's soccer program," Belmont University Director of Athletics Scott Corley said. "The Southern Conference stands among the most highly-regarded and accomplished leagues in the country, and this partnership offers countless opportunities for growth and shared interest. We eagerly await this next chapter for Bruin soccer."
"Belmont University is thrilled to have our men's soccer program become a part of the Southern Conference," Belmont University President Dr. Robert C. Fisher said. "We respect the universities that make up the conference for their sportsmanship, competitive toughness and their commitment to academic excellence. We will do our very best to live up to that standard."
Belmont University Athletics has a proud history of competition with several SoCon member institutions, including previous conference affiliation with ETSU, Mercer and Samford.
"This should be a win-win for both parties," Iamarino said. "It gives our programs another conference game in a sport in which only 60 percent of our full-time members compete, and it provides Belmont's program with a more economical travel schedule. We're delighted to begin an association with an institution as highly regarded as Belmont University."
Belmont University men's soccer is an eight-time recipient of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition award, signifying ranking in the top 10 percent within their respective sports nationwide for their academic progress rate as determined by the NCAA.
"We are excited about the new possibilities and challenges the Southern Conference will present," Belmont University men's soccer head coach Bryan Green said. "The SoCon is traditionally a very strong conference, as evidenced by earning multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament this past year. Being able to develop regional rivalries and rekindle past series within conference is something we welcome."
The Bruin program boasts dozens of current and former players hailing from within the Southern Conference footprint, not to mention current assistant coach Marr Carr – a 2003 VMI graduate.
About Belmont University
Ranked No. 6 in the Regional Universities South category and named as a "Most Innovative" university by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of more than 7,700 students who come from every state and more than 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The University's purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world's needs. With more than 90 areas of undergraduate study, 19 master's programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon. For more information, visit www.belmont.edu.
About the Southern Conference
The Southern Conference, which is in its 96th season of intercollegiate competition in 2016-17, is a national leader in emphasizing the development of the student-athlete and helping build lifelong leaders and role models. The conference has been on the forefront of innovation and originality in developing creative solutions to address issues facing intercollegiate athletics. From establishing the first conference basketball tournament (1921), to tackling the issues of freshman eligibility (1922), to developing women's championships (1984) to becoming the first conference to install the 3-point goal in basketball (1980), the Southern Conference has been a pioneer. The Southern Conference is the nation's fifth-oldest NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association. The conference currently consists of 10 members in six states throughout the Southeast and sponsors 21 varsity sports and championships that produce participants for NCAA Division I Championships.