SoCon seeks hoops boost

Without any big-ticket items on the agenda, the Southern Conference wrapped up three days of informative, if uneventful, spring meetings in Charleston, S.C., on Thursday.

SoCon commissioner John Iamarino said the usual topics were discussed - membership, branding and marketing - but little action was taken in the spring gathering of SoCon school presidents, athletic directors, administrators and coaches.

The league did establish a committee, comprised of athletic directors and coaches, to look at how it can raise the visibility of SoCon men's basketball.

In 2008, Stephen Curry led Davidson to the Elite Eight, but overall in recent years other mid-major conferences have had much more success nationally than the SoCon. Two mid-major teams, Butler and VCU, reached this year's Final Four, and Butler has played for the national title the past two seasons.

"Clearly we do feel that improving men's basketball needs to be a higher priority," Iamarino said. "[SoCon coaches] have to recruit against conferences like the Colonial [Athletic Association] and the Atlantic 10.

"There is some feeling that if we're a little more aggressive and do things a little differently, then perhaps we can achieve some of the success that those conferences have had."

On Thursday, officials from UNC Charlotte made a presentation regarding its new football program and possibly joining the SoCon as an associate member, in football only. Charlotte will begin play in 2013.

"We didn't vote on it or make any kind of decision," University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic director Rick Hart said. "I anticipate that it's something the [presidents] will take up and vote amongst themselves. As ADs, I think we're comfortable and happy with where we are in terms of membership."

Iamarino said the presidents are scheduled to meet on June 16 and a vote on Charlotte will likely be done then. He said the 12-member SoCon is "already fairly diverse when it comes to not only football, but the entire membership. There are questions of do we want to add to that diversity by taking an associate in a high-profile sport."

Among the items that were approved, UTC will host the SoCon men's and women's tennis championships in 2014. This year's tournament was held at the Champions Club and received very positive reviews from the participants and the SoCon.

During the meetings, Appalachian State was recognized for winning the Commissioner's Cup and the Germann Cup, which are awarded to the most successful men's and women's athletic programs.