JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (School release) – The Buccaneers are back home.
After spending the past nine seasons as members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, the ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics officially rejoined the Southern Conference at the stroke of midnight on Monday evening.
The Bucs, who originally spent 25 years in the SoCon from 1978 to 2005, are joined by VMI and Mercer as the newest members of the conference.
"Today marks an exciting new chapter and a homecoming of sorts for ETSU athletics," said ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander. "Returning to the Southern Conference reunites our program with several of our traditional rivals and positions us for significant progress into the future.
"We are prepared to do our part to add to the successful tradition of the Southern Conference, which already enjoys a reputation as one of the most national-recognized brands in college athletics. We are very excited to be making this move both for our student-athletes and our fans."
ETSU had a successful run in the SoCon previously, winning the Commissioner's Cup during the 1982-83 academic year and – most notably – capturing 13 regular season championships and six tournament titles in men's basketball during the Bucs' first tenure in the league.
As a member of the Atlantic Sun since 2005, ETSU flourished in the league, winning the men's all-sports race nine times in 10 seasons and the combined all-sports race in eight of its nine years of existence.
In all, the Bucs won 35 men's regular-season and tournament titles and 22 women's championships during their time in the A-Sun, including a remarkable current run of eight straight men's tennis tournament titles.
"We are excited to come home to the SoCon," said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. "East Tennessee State University is looking forward to the opportunity to renew longstanding rivalries and to reengage with alumni in the region."
Fans are invited to join in the celebration of the Bucs' return to the SoCon by visiting the program's Twitter site and using the hashtag #BackHome to share their favorite SoCon memories. Fans are also encouraged to share photos of great SoCon moments on the athletics Facebook page.