BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southwestern Athletic Conference's most recent powerhouse is switching divisions.
The league announced Thursday that Alcorn State, which has won four of the past six conference championships and played for the title all six years, will switch to the West Division starting with the 2021-22 school year.
That's when the league adds Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The Braves will join Southern and Grambling in the West, meaning that division will include the teams that have won the past 12 on-field championships.
Alcorn beat Southern for the SWAC title each of the past two seasons.
The SWAC has moved its 2020 season to the spring of 2021 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors, along with the leagues’ athletic directors and female senior administrators, voted unanimously in favor of the realignment. A statement said the decision took into consideration shortest distance of travel among league membership, student-athlete welfare, missed class time and overall competitive equity.
The SWAC East will consist of Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State.
The SWAC West will be comprised of Alcorn State, Grambling, Prairie View, Southern, Texas Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
As part of its statement, the SWAC said it would maintain traditional rivalries across divisions.
For the past 20 years, the SWAC had 10 members, with five each in the West and East — but geographically, FAMU and Bethune-Cookman are both natural fits the East.
FAMU and Bethune-Cookman's departure from the MEAC was part of a larger trend. The MEAC's footprint stretched up and down the East Coast but has shriveled in recent years as longtime members departed.
Hampton left in 2018 for Big South Conference; North Carolina A&T voted to do the same last year; and Savannah State returned to Division II.