Florida A&M's Board of Trustees voted Thursday in a unanimous decision to approve the university's affiliation transition from the MEAC to the SWAC, effective July 1, 2021. The move is pending formal approval from the SWAC.
The vote ends a 39-year affiliation with the conference after joining in 1979. FAMU left for one season in 1985 then rejoined in 1986.
FAMU is the second MEAC member on track to leave the MEAC next year along with North Carolina A&T, which is leaving for the Big South. In the SWAC, the Rattlers will be the 11th member institution, as it joins Prairie View A&M, Southern, Texas Southern, Jackson State, Grambling State, Alcorn State, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State.
It leaves the MEAC with just nine member institutions beginning in the summer of 2021, only seven of which play FCS football.
FAMU's vice president of athletics, Kortne Gasha, said the move will save the university roughly $400,000 per year, per WTXL, because of a closer proximity to other teams in the SWAC and lower travel expenses. It could also be a better way to generate football revenue in the SWAC.
"Imagine buying 30, 40 plane tickets from Tallahassee to Dover, Delaware for a basketball game," Gosha said. "That's an expensive venture. Quite frankly, we were doing that for 16 varsity programs. Really, 15 plus chartering a flight for football. With a lot of the departmental funding cuts and long history of budget issues, that's the first thing we had to roll our sleeves and look into."
FAMU is one of the largest and most prestigious HBCU institutions in the country. It ranked second among all public HBCUs in the 2020 U.S. News and World Report and seventh among all HBCUs -- both public and private -- in the same report.