The University of Virginia's College at Wise to Join South Atlantic Conference in 2019-20

The University of Virginia's College at Wise to Join South Atlantic Conference in 2019-20

ROCK HILL, S.C(TheSAC.com) – The South Atlantic Conference Presidents Council announced today that The University of Virginia's College at Wise will join the SAC effective July 1, 2019, following a unanimous vote by the council to approve its application for membership.  UVa-Wise will begin competition in the conference in the 2019-20 academic year. 

The addition of UVa-Wise will increase the number of SAC members to 12 institutions. It marks the conference's first expansion since 2013, when Coker College and Queens University of Charlotte joined the league. 

UVa-Wise, located in Wise, Va., is a four-year public liberal arts college offering 31 majors, 36 minors, and 17 teaching licensures. They offer numerous degree programs, including Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report, UVa-Wise is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), is nationally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges and it has been nationally-ranked among the top public liberal art colleges in the U.S. It has also been selected for inclusion in the nationwide list of "Colleges of Distinction." 

"The South Atlantic Conference has a history of academic and athletic excellence, traits that make UVa-Wise a great fit to join our league," said Dr. Evans Whitaker, Chair of the SAC President's Council. "I join the SAC leadership team, the presidents and campus families of all of our member schools in extending a warm welcome to our newest member institution. We have full confidence UVa-Wise will add even more value to our conference and represent us well."

UVa-Wise will compete in 13 of the SAC's 20 championship sports, with the exception of men's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer and men's and women's track and field. 

"On behalf of our Presidents, Athletic Directors, coaches, student-athletes and fans, I am thrilled to welcome UVa-Wise to the South Atlantic Conference," said SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz.  "We believe that the addition of this fine institution will enhance the experience of all SAC student-athletes and elevate the visibility and long-term strength of the conference."

UVa-Wise has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,021 students, with a student-faculty ration of 13:1 and an average class size of 15. 

The UVa-Wise athletic program produced two All-Americans, an All-Region performer, a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and a Freshman of the Year in 2016-17. The Cavaliers won the 2016 Mountain East Conference men's golf championship in 2016, the softball team hosted the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional in 2017 and the women's basketball team won 21 games in 2016-17.

"We are excited to join the South Atlantic Conference," said UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. "Our College has a natural rivalry with schools in the SAC, and we look forward to renewing competition with familiar SAC schools and to building new rivalries with the rest."

Henry expressed her thanks to the Mountain East Conference for the assistance UVa-Wise received when it was transitioning to NCAA Division II. UVa-Wise enjoyed a strong and productive relationship with the MEC, Henry added.

"Today marks an exciting moment for the future of UVa-Wise athletics, as we accept membership in the South Atlantic Conference," said UVa-Wise Director of Athletics Kendall Rainey. "The geographic footprint of the SAC fits our regional profile, allowing for reduced travel and missed class time for our students while continuing to align us with institutions who have similar academic and athletic philosophies. We have a history of competition with SAC members, and expect to develop some strong local rivalries."

Logistics of UVa-Wise's integration into the SAC, including the possibility of divisional play, will be vetted by the conference's leadership groups in May. 

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