The Southwest Athletic Conference voted to stick with the league championship game format permanently and will continue to play the title game on the campus of the highest seeded team, the league announced Wednesday.
The SWAC’s Sports Administrator’s Committee made the recommendations at the spring meetings in Biloxi, Miss., this week and the Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted them in.
“Bringing the title game to campus was an exciting experience,” Southern athletic director Roman Banks said. “The game day atmosphere was great, it looked very good on TV, it had the pageantry of a high-level football game, the fans were fantastic. It generated more money than it has on any neutral site.
“This is the right place for it. It makes it more consistent for our fans. Our game has created such excitement, corporate sponsors have wanted to buy into it the way it was last year.”
The 2018 SWAC championship game was played at Alcorn State and won by the Braves, 37-28, over Southern. The game was moved when the originally intended neutral site, Birmingham’s Legion Field, became unavailable. The 2019 game will also match the East and West Division champions at the home site of the team with the best record. In the event of a tie, a tiebreaker system will be implemented.
“It was truly an electric atmosphere,” SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland said. “It further illustrated the overall value of our league’s title game as it relates to brand exposure, visibility and revenue generation.”
The conference had already voted to increase the conference football schedule from seven to eight games beginning in 2020. McClelland said it would allow the potential for teams other than Southern and Grambling to receive at-large berths in the FCS playoffs. Southern and Grambling continue to play the Bayou Classic on the first day of the playoffs and are not eligible.
“As a key part of our strategic plan towards raising the overall profile of the league in the sport of football, the implementation of an eight-game conference schedule was one of the first steps we needed to take to achieve that goal.”
The SWAC will also continue with the same format for the men’s and women’s basketball championships. The top four teams in each division will qualify for an eight-team tournament. First round games will be played on campus with the final four moving on to play the semifinals and finals in Birmingham, Ala.
A formal announcement will be made at SWAC Football Media Day July 16.