CIAA Welcomes Bluefield State University as 13th Full Member

By: CIAA Sports

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA®), the nation’s oldest historically black conference, has announced the addition of Bluefield State (WV) University as a full member, starting July 1, 2023. 

“We are excited to welcome Bluefield State University back to the CIAA,” said CIAA Board of Directors Chair and Bowie State University President Dr. Aminta Breaux. “We look forward to all Bluefield State will bring to our historic athletic conference.”

Last week, the CIAA’s Board of Directors voted to approve Bluefield State University as the conference’s 13th member. The fellow HBCU brings 13 sports for conference competition, intending to add women’s bowling next year for the 14th sport. The conference will be working to determine conference balance and more information regarding divisions is forthcoming. Starting in the 2023-24 season, the Big Blue (BSU’s mascot) will begin conference play in the CIAA. 

“Bluefield State University is deeply honored to join the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association,” remarked Bluefield State’s President Robin Capehart. “We are grateful for the input and insight provided by CIAA administrative personnel, the Presidents of CIAA member institutions, and for the leadership and hard work of the Bluefield State University Board of Governors, BSU Athletic Director Derrick Price and his staff, Mr. Barry Blizzard, our alumni, and community leaders throughout this process.” 

Previously, the Big Blue were members of the CIAA from 1932 to 1955. In 2021, Bluefield State revived its football program after a 40-year hiatus and the Big Blue currently sponsors 19 sports, primarily competing as an Independent in NCAA Division II. 

“Becoming a CIAA member institution provides significant benefits to our student-athletes and sports programs, our alumni, and the community,” said President Capehart. “CIAA membership represents a MAJOR milestone in BSU’s reconnection to its roots as a proud and vibrant Historically Black College and University. Our most sincere thanks to the CIAA and to everyone involved!” 

Over the past three years and in the middle of a pandemic, Bluefield State (which transitioned to university status in the summer of 2022) has experienced a phoenix-like rebirth following an extended loss of enrollment. Today, Bluefield State is the most diverse HBCU in West Virginia, one of the fastest growing (based on enrollment) higher education institutions in America, with the largest and most diverse freshman class (2021) in three decades. Bluefield State has a true HBCU heartbeat, with the restoration of intercollegiate football, outstanding student housing on campus, and the second-highest composite financial index of all colleges and universities in West Virginia. 

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