Mercer University Accepts Invitation to Join the Southern Conference

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By NewsCentral Staff

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Updated: Tue, 04 Jun 2013 11:09:11 EST

Mercer University has accepted an invitation to join the Southern Conference. The conference change will take effect July 1, 2014. All of Mercer's sports, with the exception of men's and women's lacrosse and women's sand volleyball, will compete in the Southern Conference. That includes football, which this fall will resume competition after a 72-year hiatus. Mercer President William D. Underwood tells WGXA, “The past several years have been a tumultuous time in intercollegiate athletics. Conference realignment has affected traditional rivalries and disrupted the geographic integrity of conferences across the country. Mercer’s affiliation with the Southern Conference will, however, restore historic rivalries and reduce travel burdens on our student-athletes. We look forward to continued competition with our colleagues in the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2013-14. We have enjoyed close relationships with a number of outstanding academic institutions within the A-Sun that we anticipate will continue beyond our change in conference affiliation.” The Southern Conference was founded in 1921 and is the fifth-oldest NCAA Division I athletic association. Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino tells WGXA, "We’re honored to have Mercer become a member of the Southern Conference. The combination of outstanding facilities, successful athletic programs and undeniable academic excellence makes Mercer a great fit for us. We’re delighted they’ve accepted our invitation.” Mercer has competed against Southern Conference schools in the past. Samford has been one of Mercer's most frequent opponents. Beginning in 2014, Mercer will award athletic scholarships in football to academically qualified student-athletes as it does in other sports. Mercer's Director of Athletics, Jim Cole, tells WGXA, "Our coaches and student-athletes are looking forward to competing in the Southern Conference. There are some great rivalries that will be renewed and I know our fans will enjoy cheering on the Bears not only at home, but on the road in the Southern Conference as well. This is a good move for Mercer in general and for the athletics department in particular.”

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