College: Bryant makes it official. They are joining the Big South

Bryant University is leaving the NEC in football. In a move that has been rumored for weeks now, Bryant is moving to the Big South Conference.

The Big South is comprised of Campbell University (Buies Creek, N.C.), Charleston Southern University (Charleston, S.C.) and Gardner-Webb University (Boiling Springs, N.C.), Bryant, North Carolina A&T (Greensboro, N.C.) and Robert Morris (Moon Township, Pa.) are associate football-only schools in the conference.

The move is in line with Bryant’s desire to become a more national program. School President Dr. Ross Gittell echoed that sentiment in a statement.

“Bryant’s ascent from a regional university to a national destination school is gaining momentum.” Gittell added: “In accepting an invitation from the Big South Conference for Football, the University is now affiliated with an exemplary leader in college athletics, dedicated to developing student-athletes through the pursuit of character and excellence in the classroom, community and competition.”

Athletic Director Bill Smith thanked the Big South and said this was a big step in the program’s development.

“I am incredibly grateful to Commissioner Kallander for giving us the opportunity to join a conference with a rich history of competitive success that has produced some of the nation’s top teams over the last several years. This is a great opportunity for our football program to take the next step in its evolution and for our school to continue to grow its footprint across the country. We are excited to build new rivalries in the Big South and look forward to competing for championships.”

Head Football Coach Chris Merritt is looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the Big South Conference.

“On behalf of the entire Bryant Football program, we are excited to join the Big South Conference in the fall of 2022,” coach Merritt said. “I would like to thank President Gittell and Director of Athletics Bill Smith for their support in the elevation of our program that coincides with the school’s vision of expanding our footprint on the east coast. Our student-athletes and coaches are excited for the new challenge and we look forward to joining our new home in the Big South.”

Aside from the announcement that Bryant was leaving the NEC for the Big South, the school also unveiled its 2022 football schedule yesterday.

The Bulldogs will play ten games next season. They open the season with a visit to Florida International before coming home to take on URI. The Bulldogs visit Brown Week 3.

As of right now, Bryant has two weeks off before entering the conference portion of their schedule. The Bulldogs do play Holy Cross on November 12th. They wrap up the regular season on November 19th against Robert Morris.

The Bryant Football program is now on the national radar. They are full scholarship, moving to the Big South and playing a competitive schedule. It is no longer just another small time FCS program in sleepy Smithfield, Rhode Island. Bryant Football is now a program are going to know about beyond this region.