Commissioner: Big South seeking expansion

Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander expressed confidence on Wednesday that his Division I conference can stabilize in football amid the merry-go-round that is conference realignment.

The Big South, based in Charlotte, N.C., will lose associate member Stony Brook to the Colonial Athletic Association this year and learned last week that full member VMI will depart for its former conference, the Southern Conference, after the 2013-14 school year.

Liberty also has announced it is seeking to move its football program from the FCS level to the FBS.

The Big South has pieced together its football. When VMI leaves next year, Monmouth, which like Stony Brook, isn't part of the conference's geographic footprint, will join for football only and keep it at six members.

"Our goal certainly is to increase membership, really as it always has been," said Kallander, who is entering his 18th year as the Big South commissioner.

"We've never stood pat and said we're happy with seven (members) even (in football). The process is on-going, our chief executive officers and our football members are engaged in the process. So we're evaluating a lot of different options currently on where to go with our expansion for football. Clearly it is at the top of our priority list and we're evaluating currently.

"Liberty has been very up front about their desire to go to the FBS level and some point in time that will happen, so that certainly has to be part of our strategic planning process, understanding that they will make the move."

Realignment, of course, continues its cycle, so the Big South is seeking expansion. In football, there could be opportunity with start-up scholarship programs like Kennesaw State, which begins play in 2015, or with a Division II school looking to move up to Division I - perhaps a West Georgia? There may be schools in other southern conferences seeking a move as well.

The Big South is strong in most sports with 12 full members for the coming school year, including VMI. Despite the changes in football, the Big South champion will continue to have an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.

"This may sound a little strange, but I think overall the Big South Conference is very stable," Kallander said. "We feel pretty good about where we are both from an overall membership standpoint and with football. Obviously, there continues to be movement, but we haven't had nearly as much change in our league as there has been in others.

"I've looked at the improvement that our schools have made and the investment they have been making in their programs on the football side and otherwise that really bodes well for the future. I think the future of the Big South is very positive."