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The Virginian — Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
Officials from the MEAC and Hampton University hammered out a compromise agreement during last week's basketball tournament at Scope that allows the Pirates to exit to the Big South Conference next season.
The league and university announced the agreement Monday morning.
Terms weren't announced, but Hampton agreed to pay "an undisclosed fine for failing to meet the MEAC's July 1, 2017 deadline for withdrawal from the Conference," according to a statement released jointly by the MEAC and Hampton.
Hampton announced in November, four months after the MEAC deadline, that it was leaving for the Big South in July.
MEAC officials imposed a $250,000 fine and, oddly, told the Pirates they would be required to play full league football schedules through the 2021 season, Hampton officials said.
That was despite MEAC football refusing to play the Pirates in 2018.
Hampton officials called the fine unfair and accused the MEAC of telling league schools not to play the Pirates in nonconference games in any sport in 2018.
Hampton officials said every MEAC school they contacted declined to schedule football games with them in 2018.
That includes Norfolk State, which declined a football date with Hampton and will instead travel to South Carolina State. That means, unless there is an unforeseen change, the Battle of the Bay between Norfolk State and Hampton won't be played for the first time since 1962.
Matt Michalec, an assistant athletic director at NSU, said the game definitely won't be played in 2018.
"We have a signed agreement to play SCSU," he said via text message.
Hampton officials said they will play an independent schedule in 2018, but it isn't clear whether they will find enough opponents to be eligible for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
So far, Hampton is scheduled to play just four FCS opponents — Monmouth, Tennessee State, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian College — as well as Division II schools Virginia Union and Shaw and Virginia University of Lynchburg, which doesn't play in the NCAA.
The release states that the agreement "allows for Hampton University and the MEAC member institutions to play as non-conference opponents in the future and preserves the traditional rivalries held dear by stakeholders of both Hampton University and the MEAC."
The impasse broke down into a war of news releases in the past month, including a blistering, four-page release from Hampton two weeks ago that harshly criticized the conference.
But things apparently calmed down in the last week.
"Hampton University values our relationship with the MEAC, and I believe this agreement is best for all parties going forward," said Hampton President William R. Harvey in a statement.
MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas added that "we are very pleased with the agreement reached between the MEAC and Hampton. We wish Hampton University student athletes, coaches and staff continued success in their future endeavors."
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