BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell University has accepted an invitation to join the Colonial Athletic Association in all sports the league sponsors effective July 1, 2023, the school announced on Wednesday.
Campbell will remain a member of the Big South Conference for the 2022-2023 season before making the move. Wrestling will remain a member of the Southern Conference.
The addition of Campbell in 2023 will increase CAA’s membership to 14 schools, joining new members North Carolina A&T, Hampton, Monmouth and Stony Brook as schools that have all joined in the last year. CAA Football will consist of 15 teams beginning in 2023.
The conference encompasses many of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas with a geographic footprint that stretches from Boston to Charleston. It has produced 18 national team champions in five different sports and 33 individual national champions.
“The leadership team at Campbell University could not be more grateful to the Colonial Athletic Association for the invitation to join this outstanding athletic conference,” said Campbell President J. Bradley Creed. “Campbell’s athletic teams have demonstrated that we can compete with some of the best teams in the country. This move to the CAA aligns extremely well for Campbell in terms of the profile of sports and athletics, as well as the academic reputation of these highly regarded colleges and universities.”
Acting Campbell University Director of Athletics Hannah Bazemore called the move “one that will be exceptional for our institution.”
“I would like to thank Commissioner Joe D’Antonio and the board of directors in the CAA for extending this invitation and giving Campbell University, our student-athletes, coaches and staff this tremendous opportunity. It’s an exciting time to be at Campbell,” Bazemore said. “Academically, culturally and athletically, the CAA will be an outstanding home for Fighting Camel Athletics for decades to come. It’s our goal to give our student-athletes and coaches an opportunity to compete among the nation’s leaders, and joining the CAA at this time affords us this opportunity.”
Campbell University Athletics is home to more than 600 student-athletes competing in 21 Division I sports — baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, women’s swimming (CCSA), men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and women’s volleyball. Wrestling will remain a member of the Southern Conference.
Campbell joined NCAA Division I in 1977 and became a charter member when the Big South Conference was formed in 1983. Campbell joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in the summer of 1994 and competed in the ASUN 17 years before returning to the Big South in the summer of 2011.
After a five-decade absence, Campbell resumed football competition in 2008 as a member of the Pioneer Football League. Campbell moved up to competition in Big South football in 2018.
“We are excited to welcome Campbell University as the newest member of the Colonial Athletic Association,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said. “Campbell is an outstanding academic institution that features a successful and competitive athletic program. Both of these attributes fit perfectly into the Conference’s vision that calls for our membership to work together to advance nationally competitive athletic programs — coupled with outstanding academic programs — that empower student-athletes as whole persons to strive at the highest level in every aspect of their lives.
“The CAA continues to be focused on making decisions that ensures its membership a competitive and sustainable model.”
Over the last five years, Campbell has won four Big South Conference men’s all sports trophies and the Sasser Cup twice as the overall Big South all sports champion.
In that same five-year span, Campbell has won 42 league regular season and tournament titles in Big South and Southern (wrestling) conference competition. Fighting Camel teams won a school record 13 conference regular season and tournament titles in 2021-22 — winning championships in women’s soccer (regular season), men’s soccer (regular season and tournament), volleyball (tournament), women’s basketball (regular season), men’s indoor track & field, baseball (regular season and tournament), softball (regular season and tournament), women’s golf and men’s tennis (regular season). Campbell also won the 2022 Southern Conference wrestling tournament championship.
Fighting Camel teams and individuals have made 49 postseason appearances in the last five seasons, including 13 berths in 2021-22. The women’s golf team has earned 10-consecutive NCAA regional berths, while the baseball team has competed in the last four NCAA regionals.
“We are grateful to the Big South Conference and Commissioner Kyle Kallander,” Bazemore said. “Without the growth they afforded Campbell to rejoin the conference in 2011, we would not be in this position today.”
Recent Fighting Camel alumni include current Major League Baseball players Cedric Mullins (All-Star centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles) and Ryan Thompson (pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays) as well as former PGA TOUR golfers David Mathis and Brad Fritsch. After finishing his career as the third all-time leading scorer in Division I history, Chris Clemons played with the NBA’s Houston Rockets in 2019-20 and spent the 2021-22 season in the NBA G-League.
Campbell was also the first team in the nation to have two players selected in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, with Zach Neto (Los Angeles Angels) going 13th and Thomas Harrington (Pittsburgh Pirates) picked 36th overall.
Campbell will join a Colonial Athletic Association that has established itself as one of the nation’s top collegiate conferences both athletically and academically for more than three decades.
Schools include College of Charleston, University of Delaware, Drexel University, Elon University, Hampton University, Hofstra University, Monmouth University, North Carolina A&T University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Northeastern University, Stony Brook University, Towson University and William & Mary University. Football-only programs include University of Albany, Villanova University, University of Richmond and University of Rhode Island.
The landscape of the conference stretches along the majority of the East Coast, and includes several of the nation’s top media markets — New York (1), Philadelphia (4), Washington, D.C. (7), Boston (9) and Baltimore (26). The number of television homes in the CAA market exceeds 19 million.
The CAA conducts championships in 24 sports. Male athletes compete for championships in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and indoor and outdoor track & field. Female athletes battle for conference titles in basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field and volleyball.
CAA teams have combined to win 43 games in postseason play since 2006, including a pair of NCAA Final Four appearances. The conference has sent multiple teams to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship in eight of the past 12 years with Hofstra advancing to the third round in 202. Hofstra has reached the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship three times in the past four seasons. Towson’s volleyball program has claimed three straight league titles and reached the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship in 2019.
In softball, former member James Madison became the first CAA team to ever reach the Women’s College World Series in 2021 and knocked off top-ranked powerhouse Oklahoma. UNC Wilmington’s baseball team has earned 10 NCAA Regional berths since 2003. William & Mary’s men’s cross country team strung together 20 straight conference championships from 2000-19. A conference-record four CAA women’s lacrosse teams received NCAA Tournament berths in 2021. Towson reached the men’s lacrosse Final Four in 2017. Charleston became the first CAA team to advance to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship in 2022 after placing fifth at the Palm Beach Regional. CofC’s Laura Fuenfstueck reached the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship in 2017. Towson’s Brian Benzing placed 13th in the 100 breaststroke at the 2022 NCAA Swimming Championship to earn honorable mention All-America accolades.
CAA member institutions are also committed to excellence in the classroom. The Colonial Academic Alliance was created in 2002 by the league’s presidents with a goal of expanding their partnership to all aspects of university education and life outside of intercollegiate athletics. The Alliance has facilitated leadership exchanges to promote professional development, developed an academic resource sharing program to support student athletes, and created opportunities for institutions to partner on a wide range of initiatives that enhance student success.