The Bryant Bulldogs will join the Big South Conference as an associate member for football beginning with the 2022 season, it was officially announced on Tuesday.
Bryant will join the Big South Conference officially on July 1, 2022 and will be immediately eligible for the conference championship and an automatic berth to the FCS Playoffs.
“Bryant University’s commitment to success in FCS football is real,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander. “From program growth, to personnel, to planned facility improvements, the Bulldogs are impressive in their approach to striving for, and achieving, excellence. Bryant will be an outstanding member of Big South Conference football, and we look forward to welcoming them for the 2022 season.”
Bryant University, located in Smithfield, R.I., has been a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC) since 2009. The remaining athletic programs will join the America East Conference.
“This is a great day for our department and for our football program,” Bryant University Director of Athletics Bill Smith added. “I am incredibly grateful to Commissioner Kallander for giving us the opportunity to join a conference with a rich history of competitive success that has produced some of the nation’s top teams over the last several years. This is a great opportunity for our football program to take the next step in its evolution and for our school to continue to grow its footprint across the country. We are excited to build new rivalries in the Big South and look forward to competing for championships.”
With the addition of Bryant, the Big South will have six football-playing members in 2022. Bryant will join Campbell, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, North Carolina A&T, and Robert Morris.
Just two weeks ago on March 15, Bryant was included on the 2022 NEC football schedule release. The NEC will now have to revise their schedule, while the Big South will release their 2022 schedule “…in the near future.”
Following Bryant’s announcement of their move to the Bog South and America East, Northeast Conference commissioner Noreen Morris released a statement.
“Today, the Northeast Conference Council of Presidents was informed by the president of Bryant University of its decision to withdraw from the NEC as of June 30, 2022,” Morris said.
“While we are disappointed by this news, we thank Bryant for its 14-year partnership with the NEC. We wish Bryant’s coaches and student-athletes only the best as they complete their final few months of NEC regular season and championship competition and transition to the America East Conference in 2022-23.
“The Northeast Conference is excited about its future and the possibilities that lie ahead. Over the past year, the NEC Presidents have been actively involved in membership expansion planning with a focus on attracting institutions that support the NEC’s strategic goals and position the league in terms of strength and stability. We look forward to rolling out that plan in the near future.”