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Basketball coach Duggar Baucom says the formal announcement should come at the end of the month.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
In his guest speaker's role at the Roanoke Valley Sports Club meeting at the Salem Civic Center on Monday night, VMI basketball coach Duggar Baucom told a packed house that the school's re-entry into the Southern Conference is almost a done deal.
When asked by a meeting attendee if there was any word about the Southern Conference, Baucom didn't hesitate in answering the question.
"I was sworn to secrecy and I still am, except with the Roanoke Sports Club," said Baucom, drawing a roar of laughter from the gallery of approximately 100 people.
"The Southern Conference did visit [the school] two weeks ago on a Wednesday [May 8] and all indications are that we're going to go back to the Southern Conference," Baucom continued. "It will be formally announced, I think, May 30th or 31st at the Southern Conference meeting."
VMI's athletics teams have resided in the Big South since 2003. All except the wrestling team, which has continued as a special-case member of the SoCon.
"We've been very above board with the Big South to let them know of our interest," Baucom noted.
VMI was a Southern Conference member from 1924-2002 before bolting to join the Big South, a move that was supposed to enhance the success of the military school's football program. However, that didn't happen as the Keydets have won only 11 of 49 Big South contests, including a 7-22 record in five years under current coach Sparky Woods
"It's our home, it's where we were forever," added Baucom of the institute's SoCon membership.
"I've always coached [at VMI] in the Big South Conference, but I was [an assistant] coach at Davidson [1995-96], I was [an assistant] coach at Western Carolina [2000-03]. Me personally, I would love to go back to the Southern Conference. I think it's very historic.
"So I think we'd be a good fit. I think it's going to happen. We will play next year [2013-14] in the Big South. Then, the next year [2014-15] we'll be Southern."
Noting that SoCon hoops power Davidson is leaving the league in 2014 for the Atlantic 10, Baucom quipped: "Now that Davidson is gone, the Southern Conference is a lot more attractive."
East Tennessee State and Mercer, which also were visited by Southern Conference brass and member school presidents earlier this month, also appear to be headed to the league. ETSU and Mercer are currently members of the Atlantic Sun.
The SoCon desperately needs new football members to replace departing Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. Those programs have won or shared nine SoCon football titles. Appalachian State and George Southern football are heading to the FBS Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
The College of Charleston, a non-football playing member, earlier announced its intentions to join the Colonial Athletic Conference in 2014.
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