With some member institutions concerned about the direction the Southwestern Athletic Conference was headed under his leadership, commissioner Duer Sharp submitted his letter of resignation.
The SWAC is holding its winter meetings in Houston, where school presidents and chancellors met Thursday morning. Southern director of athletics Roman Banks said the council of presidents accepted Sharp's resignation.
It is not yet clear whether Sharp's resignation is effective immediately, or if he will stay in his post throughout the remainder of his contract, which is set to expire this summer. As of Thursday night, the SWAC office had yet to issue a statement regarding Sharp's future.
Banks said there was no official record of who was or was not displeased with Sharp's performance as commissioner, adding that the point was made moot when Sharp submitted his resignation.
But, Banks said, there was "unanimous concern" about the SWAC's stability and the direction the league was taking.
"All had a concern about the last few years," Banks said. "What is our position, where we're going."
Also among the concerns was a "lack of sponsorships," Banks said, which "prompted us (Southern) to look around at other leagues."
Sharp started with the conference as assistant commissioner in 2004 and has served as commissioner since 2008.
Under Sharp's direction, the league secured a spot in the Celebration Bowl opposite the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, and it also orchestrated the move of the league's football and basketball conference championships to Houston in 2013.
Earlier this year, the SWAC announced that this year's football conference championship game would be its last.
At the time, the move to do away with the SWAC championship game was said to help the league to focus on the Celebration Bowl.
“By focusing on the Celebration Bowl, we can continue to grow (it) as an HBCU classic for the teams and fans of both conferences and for HBCU football nationally,” Sharp said in June.
The decision is believed to also be related to the high cost of hosting the game at NRG Stadium in Houston, the home of the Houston Texans. And when combined with an earlier decision to change the league's scheduling format from a nine-game round-robin schedule to a seven-game schedule, that opened the door for potential chaos when it came to determining a sole champion to represent the SWAC in the Celebration Bowl.
"The scenario can literally get to drawing straws or picking a name out of a can," Banks said.
With that in mind — and with Sharp soon to be out of the picture — Banks said SWAC athletic directors "unanimously agreed" to look at re-instituting the SWAC championship game next season, when the conference will still operate with a seven-game schedule.
"We need to be fair," Banks said. "We need to make sure it's settled on the field."