Over the course of the last couple of months, the Big South has lost a majority of its conference. Hampton and Monmouth departed to the CAA in late January with North Carolina A&T following suit a month later. Defending Big South champions Kennesaw State is leaving to the ASUN Conference along with North Alabama.
Sitting at only five teams due to NC A&T not leaving until 2023, the Big South was in desperate need of a sixth team to have an auto-bid into the FCS Playoffs. With the addition of Bryant, this allows the Big South to have an auto-bid until 2023 when their association with the OVC begins.
Bryant University Director of Athletics, Bill Smith had this to say
This is a great day for our department and for our football program. 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.
Bryant University has been a member of the NEC from 2009-2021 where the scholarship limit is 45 compared to the FCS max of 63. In joining the Big South, Bryant gains an extra 18 scholarships and is expected to be a full-scholarship program for the 2022 season.
There hasn't been an announcement from the NEC on how this announcement will impact their 2022 schedule that was released March 15th.