Elon, NC (Sports Network) - Elon University announced on Thursday it will leave the Southern Conference to join the Colonial Athletic Association in all sports for the 2014-15 school year.
Elon, a Southern Conference member since 2003, will give the CAA 10 schools for basketball and 12 for football.
"In a time of great change in the collegiate athletics landscape, the Colonial Athletic Association offers a great match with our strategic plans for Elon's future," school president Leo Lambert said. "The CAA will allow our student- athletes to compete with peers at many excellent universities on the Eastern seaboard. We will have the opportunity to continue competition with fine schools in the Carolinas and Virginia while raising Elon's profile in the large metropolitan areas of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast - areas where many of our students, alumni and prospective students call home."
The CAA has been actively seeking members after losing Georgia State, VCU, George Mason and Old Dominion in the last 13 months.
Elon sponsors 17 NCAA Division I varsity sports. Its women's lacrosse program competes outside the Southern Conference in the Atlantic Sun Conference, but it, too, will join the CAA.
The Phoenix competed in the Big South Conference upon a move to Division I in 1999 before they joined the Southern Conference. Prior to its Division I membership, the school was an NCAA Division II member for eight years and previously a member of the NAIA.
Elon becomes the fifth SoCon member in the last six months to announce its exit from the league. The schools include the College of Charleston, which will leave the SoCon for the CAA this summer.
Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino reacted to Elon's announcement with the statement, "In recent years, it became increasingly evident that Elon's negative view of the diversity in the Southern Conference was not shared by the majority of the membership. Our core group remains firmly committed to each other and to the academic and athletic success of the Southern Conference. We are preparing specific initiatives to achieve that success."
VMI, East Tennessee State and Mercer are considered possibilities for the SoCon to add in expansion.