November 22, 2021 (Jackson, Miss.) - Belhaven University has accepted an invitation to join the USA South Athletic Conference and will begin competition in the fall of 2022.
The USA South Conference features 19 NCAA Division III institutions spread across the southeastern states of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. Belhaven University is currently in the American Southwest Conference and has held its membership since 2015.
Joining the USA South groups Belhaven with a league of schools that all share our similar characteristics - private institutions, commitment to prioritizing academics, balanced quality athletic programs - and located closer to us in the Southeast region, said Belhaven President Dr. Roger Parrott. At the same time, it is difficult to make this change because we have appreciated our affiliation with the ASC, and I am especially grateful to the presidents of the conference for accepting us in as a new NCAA DIII member back in 2015.
Strategic conference affiliation is at the heart of successful intercollegiate athletics, said Mr. Scott Little, Belhaven University Vice President and Director of Athletics. The USA South is a natural conference home for us given our geographic location and our primary southeastern recruiting footprint, both for student-athletes and students in general. In addition to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, an increasing number of our student-athletes originate from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. Our student-athletes and their families will enjoy these new opportunities for competition and growth.
Little adds, I echo Dr. Parrott's ASC sentiments as we finish our membership this winter and spring. My ASC colleagues and Commissioner Amy Carlton have been so enjoyable to work with over the years.
Belhaven University will join the USA South Conference with a history of tournament competitions and national championships. This academic year (2021-2022), Belhaven football posted the best season in program history with a 7-3 record and win percentage of 70%. Women's soccer and men's soccer also earned berths in their respective ASC conference tournaments.
Following more than five decades as NAIA membership, including three team national championships, Belhaven began NCAA competition in 2015 and completed its multi-year NCAA membership process in 2019, earning full membership and championship access with the 2019-2020 academic year.
Men's soccer, women's soccer, and women's basketball each earned ASC championship tournament berths in 2019-2020 prior to the suspension of NCAA competition due to the pandemic in March 2020. In 2020-2021, softball and men's outdoor track and field became the first Belhaven sport programs to reach the NCAA national championship tournaments. That same year, men's soccer, women's soccer, women's basketball, baseball, and softball all qualified for ASC conference tournament play.
Belhaven student-athletes compete in 17 intercollegiate athletics programs, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball.