Fighting Camels football to join Big South in 2018

BUIES CREEK, North Carolina — Campbell University will join the Big South Conference as a football member effective the 2018 season. Campbell President J. Bradley Creed made the announcement Monday, Nov. 14, at Gore Arena upon the recommendation of the Board of Trustees.

“We could not be more excited and proud to take Campbell University football to the next level through moving our program to the Big South Conference,” said Campbell President J. Bradley Creed. “This is a natural progression to align most all of our teams among a great group of teams in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. We plan to be competitive from Day One.”

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the motion for Campbell, already a Big South affiliate in 18 other sports.

“The Big South Conference is the perfect fit for our growing program,” said Benjamin N. Thompson, chair of the Campbell Board of Trustees. “This is a great business decision for Campbell and our football program, and we look forward to joining the Big South for football in 2018.”

The Fighting Camels will be immediately eligible to compete for the Big South Championship beginning in the fall of 2018.

They will fulfill their obligation to the Pioneer Football League for the 2017 season, which will mark their 10th year of football since bringing the sport back in 2008 after a 58-year hiatus.  

The Fighting Camels will also move toward the full NCAA Football Championship Subdivision scholarship allotment (63) after a decade in the non-athletic scholarship PFL.

Among the nation’s premier FCS conferences, the Big South has sent a team to three consecutive quarterfinal appearances in the FCS Playoffs, and has recorded multiple postseason bids three times since the league added football as a sport in 2002. A Big South member has been ranked in the FCS top-25 for 75 consecutive weeks.

Current Big South Conference football members include core members Charleston Southern University, Gardner-Webb University, Liberty University and Presbyterian College, plus associate football-only institutions Kennesaw State University and Monmouth University.

Campbell was a charter member of the Big South, which formed in 1983, and competed in the league until joining the Atlantic Sun Conference from 1994 until 2011, when the Camels rejoined the Big South.

“Ever since Campbell University returned to the Big South Conference in 2011, we have encouraged them to join Big South football,” said Kyle Kallander, commissioner of the Big South Conference. “Campbell is committed to excellence and doing things the right way, so we knew that once it added scholarships, Campbell football would be an outstanding addition to the Big South. It will not take long before the Camels are contending for the Conference championship and FCS Playoffs. 

“This is terrific news for the Big South and we are thrilled to welcome the Campbell Fighting Camels football program in 2018.”

Among the top-rated stadiums in FCS, Barker-Lane Stadium is the home of the Fighting Camels football team. Since the facility’s expansion in 2013, attendance has topped the 6,000 mark seven times (seating capacity 5,500), including a record 6,673 for the Camels’ 2016 Homecoming matchup against Stetson. Prior to the 2016 season, Campbell installed a state-of-the-art high-definition Daktronics video board just beyond the north end zone.

This season, with the top two single-game attendances in Barker-Lane Stadium’s history in hand, Campbell is on pace to set single-season highs in fans through the gates.

“This day signifies another milestone in the growth of Campbell athletics,” said Campbell Director of Athletics Bob Roller. “With the tremendous support that our football program has received from alumni and fans, this is the next step in our progression. 

“We look forward to filling in the missing piece to our full membership in the Big South Conference and are ready to send Coach Mike Minter and his staff on the road recruiting now for FCS scholarship competition in the 2018 season.”

Under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mike Minter, the Camels have established themselves as one of the top defenses and rushing teams in FCS. Campbell ranks in the Top 20 in both categories this season after being the fifth-rated defense in the country in 2015.

The Camels have placed two on NFL rosters, with defensive tackle Greg Milhouse Jr. (New York Giants) and long snapper Danny Dillon (Arizona Cardinals) both signing contracts prior to the 2016 season.

 “This is a great day for this football program and for Campbell University,” said Mike Minter, Campbell’s head football coach. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees, President Creed and Bob Roller for making this possible. When I came to Campbell four years ago I wanted to build Campbell into a FCS powerhouse, and now we get that opportunity by moving to scholarship football and a great conference in the Big South.”