BUENA VISTA, Va. – Southern Virginia University President Reed N. Wilcox today announced that the Knights have accepted an offer to join the Old Dominion Athletic Conference as an associate member for football beginning fall 2019.
Full member of the Capital Athletic Conference and current football affiliate of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, Southern Virginia will play out its remaining 2017 and 2018 schedules in the NJAC before competing in the ODAC during the 2019 football season.
“The Old Dominion Athletic Conference is a great fit for our football program,” said President Wilcox. “In many ways, the ODAC is the Ivy League of Division III football and joining the conference gives us an opportunity to compete against our peers—private, liberal arts colleges, many of which are also faith-based.
“We have excellent partners in the CAC for 17 of our 20 NCAA sanctioned sports,” continued President Wilcox. “Now our football team has excellent partners in the ODAC.”
Since transitioning to NCAA Division III in 2013, Southern Virginia has been a full member of the Capital Athletic Conference which provides a competitive home for 17 of the Knights’ 20 varsity sanctioned sports. Because the CAC does not sponsor football as a championship sport, the Knights joined the NJAC as an associate member for football in July 2014.
Over three years competing in the NJAC, the Knights garnered 12 All-NJAC selections, an NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Year Award (Neil Davis, DB), and an NJAC Co-Offensive Rookie of the Year Award (Ty Jones, QB).
“We are extremely grateful to NJAC Commissioner Terry Small and the entire conference for giving us an opportunity to compete on the gridiron,” said Southern Virginia Vice President and Director of Athletics Jason Lamb. “We hope to continue those relationships in the NJAC and develop new partnerships with the ODAC and its members.
“The opportunity for our football program to compete in the ODAC is a great step forward as we strive to improve the student-athlete experience at Southern Virginia,” Lamb continued. “We look forward to sharing geographic proximity with our opponents and developing close, competitive rivalries in football as we open the fall 2019 season.”
This change in conference alignment will drastically decrease travel time for Southern Virginia by roughly seven hours per trip. Currently, the Knights travel an average of 10.6 hours per trip in the NJAC and will average only 3.6 hours per trip in the ODAC.
“That’s big time,” said Head Football Coach Joe DuPaix in reference to the reduction in travel time his team will experience in the ODAC. “Less travel time means fewer missed classes, more single-day trips with night games, and more natural rivalries. It means our fans can travel and support us. Joining the ODAC is a big deal to our players and program.”
The ODAC began sponsoring football in 1976—the same year the conference was formed. Current ODAC football members include Bridgewater, Emory & Henry, Guilford, Hampden-Sydney, Randolph-Macon, Shenandoah and Washington & Lee.
With the recent addition of Ferrum College for the 2018 season, Southern Virginia will become the ODAC’s ninth football program in 2019.
“We are pleased to welcome Southern Virginia University’s football program into the ODAC beginning with the 2019 season,” expressed ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston. “The addition of SVU adds another quality football opponent to the conference membership and further helps solidify our conference football schedules into the future.
“Southern Virginia’s position as an affiliate in football is a unique opportunity for the two of us to work together and continue the excellent competition we experience each year in the conference,” continued Bankston. “We welcome the Southern Virginia University family to the ODAC and look forward to watching our relationship grow in the future.”
Celebrating its 42nd year of operation, the ODAC is one of the nation’s largest NCAA Division III conferences. The 14-full-time member ODAC sponsors championships in 24 sports (11 men, 13 women). Headquartered in Forest, Va., the ODAC has garnered national recognition in hosting or co-hosting 69 NCAA Division III national championships over the past 25 years.