Barton, South Atlantic Conference agree to football scheduling alliance

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As a new NCAA Division II football program without conference affiliation, filling out initial schedules can be a challenge.

Barton College received a substantial boost in that regard Thursday.

The South Atlantic Conference announced that it had entered into a two-year scheduling agreement with the Bulldogs, to begin with Barton’s first season in 2020 and carrying into the 2021 season. The Bulldogs will play eight of the SAC’s nine football members in the first year of the agreement and will face all of the league’s teams in 2021. Games against Barton will not count as a conference contest for SAC teams and the Bulldogs, situated in Conference Carolinas for their other sports, will not be eligible for preseason, weekly and end-of-season SAC honors.

“We are thrilled to have Barton come on board as a scheduling partner in football, and we look forward to working with Dr. (Doug) Searcy, Todd Wilkinson and the rest of the Barton staff in the coming years,” SAC commissioner Patrick Britz said.

The potential for a SAC scheduling partner came into play once UNC Pembroke’s program decided to join the Mountain East Conference. 

Lenoir-Rhyne, Wingate, Carson-Newman, Tusculum, Newberry, Mars Hill, Catawba and Limestone, Barton’s Conference Carolinas colleague but an associate SAC member for football, make up the league. UVA-Wise will join the SAC in 2019-20 in all sports and gives the league nine football programs.

Barton’s affiliation with the SAC will provide a quick on-field reunion for head coach Chip Hester, who was head coach at Catawba for 11 seasons prior to taking an offensive coordinator post at Football Championship Subdivision member North Carolina A&T.

“Barton College is pleased to enter a scheduling agreement with the South Atlantic Conference for football,” Barton President Doug Searcy said. “The SAC has a deep tradition in Division II football with a focus on student success and academic excellence.  The leadership and presidents in the SAC believe, as I do, that opportunities for student learning and personal growth expand through intercollegiate athletics.  We look forward to partnering with the SAC and supporting Barton College students through this new scheduling venture.”