After nearly a full year of searching for a new member, the Capital Athletic Conference received some welcomed news on Wednesday.
Christopher Newport (Va.) University president Paul Trible and director of athletics C.J. Woollum made the school's switch to the CAC official at a news conference.
The move was expected to happen eventually. Just two months ago, CNU notified the USA South Athletic Conference of its intention to withdraw as a member and pursue membership in the CAC. The CAC, which includes York College, has been looking for new members since May 2011, when Stevenson and Hood notified the conference they were leaving for the Middle Atlantic Conference following the 2011-2012 school year.
"There is a stat I got from somebody in (CNU's) conference. From the last five calendar years, they won 87 percent of their (USA South Athletic) Conference games," CAC commissioner Tom Byrnes said by phone Wednesday. "That either means they're fabulous or their conference isn't fabulous. Either way, we're bringing in a strong team like CNU that's going to be at the top of the (CAC)."
Christopher Newport became a member of the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1972. The Captains have continued as a full member since the league changed its name to the USA South Athletic Conference in 2003.
All of CNU's athletic programs except football will compete in the CAC beginning in the fall of 2013. The football program will remain an affiliate member of USA South through the 2015 season, or join the CAC if the league begins sponsoring football before that time.
Travel: The addition of CNU now gives the CAC eight total members, joining York College, Mary Washington, St. Mary's, Salisbury, Frostburg State, Marymount and Wesley.
Christopher Newport will be the third CAC school located in Virginia, alongside Mary Washington and Marymount. For York College, that could mean increased travel costs compared to those they encountered with departing Stevenson and Hood, which are both located in Maryland.
"Obviously it was a significant consideration for the conference as a whole to expand our footprint," said Paul Saikia, York College's assistant dean for athletics and recreation. "Yes. There are financial implications. As a unified group we decided it was the right thing to do."
Not done looking: Byrnes said the conference may not be done looking for additional schools since some sports could still lose their automatic bids to NCAA Division III postseason tournaments.
A sport needs at least seven teams in order to receive an automatic bid. By adding CNU, the CAC avoided possibly losing automatic bids in field hockey, baseball and men's and women's tennis.
But there are still five sports in the CAC with under seven members. That includes swimming (six), indoor track and field (six), softball (six), outdoor track and field (six) and men's golf (four). Under NCAA rules, once Stevenson and Hood leave the CAC in July 2012, the conference will have two years to find replacements before losing automatic bids.
"We're always weighing options related to how can we help us," Byrnes said. "But it's not just we want to take somebody because it's a nice round number."
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com or follow on Twitter @JohnKWalk.