VMI officially headed to SoCon

VMI officially headed to SoCon

June 1st, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - College

Southern Conference

Southern Conference

While Mercer and East Tennessee State made their moves to the Southern Conference official Thursday, Virginia Military Institute had to wait until Friday.

The VMI board of visitors unanimously voted for the Keydets to move from the Big South to the SoCon, a move that returns the Lexington, Va., school to the league it called home from 1924 to 2003. That brings the SoCon to 10 members starting with the 2014-15 academic year.

"We have great friends in the Big South, but now is the right time to return to the SoCon," VMI athletic director Donny White said in a release.

While VMI was making its move official Friday, the SoCon was finishing its spring meetings with some key business.

The league voted to extend its agreement with Asheville, N.C., for the men's and women's basketball tournaments. Asheville has hosted the past two tournaments, drawing positive reviews, and the new deal keeps the events there through the 2016-17 season.

The SoCon presidents also voted to not allow departing schools to host league tournaments next season. The women's soccer tournament has been moved to Spartanburg, S.C., and the volleyball tournament will be held in Greenville, S.C.

Still to be decided are the sites for softball, men's golf and outdoor track.

Among the other business discussed during the spring meetings was the league's television situation. The SoCon is currently nearly exclusively on ESPN3.com, but commissioner John Iamarino said Thursday that more appearances on cable TV could be possible in 2013-14.

With five teams leaving the league, each owing $600,000 for departing with less than two years' notice, the SoCon has $3 million to work with.

"That is definitely something we talked about during these meetings," Iamarino said. "I think it is possible that we will do some of that this coming season. That's something that still has to be worked out.

"Some of these decisions, we might want to defer until the fall meeting when we have the three new members in the room to talk about the future."

Along with getting on regular TV more often, Iamarino said there was discussion about how to do more with a "common digital platform." The Atlantic Sun's model might be one to follow. Its digital broadcast website, ASun.tv, shows games throughout the year and is like the league's own version of ESPN3.com.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.