Friday's local college roundup: VMI considers return to Southern Conference; W&M, HU lead conference track meets

College FootballCollege SportsBig South ConferenceOld Dominion MonarchsMid-Eastern Athletic ConferenceColonial Athletic AssociationPolitics

VMI is exploring the idea of rejoining the Southern Conference as the league looks to replace departing members Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and College of Charleston.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Friday that the Southern Conference had targeted VMI, East Tennessee State and Mercer in membership discussions. VMI spokesman Stewart MacInnis confirmed the discussions and wrote that the Keydets had agreed to exploratory talks.

“VMI feels it is healthy to at this point to evaluate the changing membership of conferences and to reflect in a purposeful manner and with an open mind on how this evolving environment impacts the Institute and its athletic programs,” MacInnis wrote.

VMI was a member of the Southern Conference from 1924-2003. The school departed for the Big South Conference, largely for football reasons. The Keydets’ football team struggled mightily in the SoCon, and the Big South gave VMI, one of the smallest Division I schools in the nation, a better opportunity to compete and more scheduling flexibility.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are departing as their football programs move to the FBS level, while the College of Charleston will join the CAA next season.

Track and field:

CAA:

William and Mary's men grabbed a big lead on the first day of the Colonial Athletic Association championships in Towson, Md.

The Tribe totaled 87 points, while UNC Wilmington (43) and Northeastern (40) were next.

The Tribe's Josh Hardin became the first runner to sweep the CAA 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs since W&M's Jon Grey in 2009.

On the women's side, William and Mary also gained the lead. W&M has 76.5 points, followed by defending champion James Madison (42) and Delaware (37.5).

W&M freshman Meghan McGovern won the 5,000 meters in a meet-record 16 minutes, 34.10 seconds. Another Tribe rookie, Emily Stites, set the 10,000-meter record of 34:15.49.

MEAC:

Hampton's men and women lead after two days of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships in Greensboro, N.C.

In men's competition, the Pirates had 37 points, while South Carolina State had 35 and Norfolk State had 33.5.

In the women's race, HU had 41 points, while NSU was sixth with 25.

Norfolk State's Champagne Bell won the long jump for the second year in a row, leaping feet 19 feet, 9.75 inches.

Baseball:

John Farrell (9-1) pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings to boost William and Mary past Hofstra 3-0 in a series opener at Plumeri Park.

Michael Katz homered, Ryan Hissey batted 3-for-4, and Jonathan Sarty had two hits and a run for the Tribe (29-17, 12-7 Colonial Athletic Association). Matt Wainman pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for his sixth save of the year. ...

Dean Ali (3-3) and Jake Josephs combined to pitch a seven-hit shutout as Old Dominion (25-21, 14-11 CAA) beat George Mason 3-0 in Norfolk, improving the Monarchs' winning streak to four.

Ben Verlander had three hits for the Monarchs, improving his average to .383. P.J. Higgins had two hits, bringing his average to .395.

Blaise Fernandez and Anthony Montefusco each had two hits for the Patriots.

Men's tennis:

Christopher Newport moved up a spot to No. 9 in the Atlantic South, one of four regions nationally in Division III.

The Captains, who were the runners-up to North Carolina Wesleyan in the regular season and conference tournament in their final USA South season, likely will stay around No. 9 in the final rankings.

Women's tennis:

CNU climbed to No. 12 in the Atlantic South rankings after a season in which the Captains finished second in the USA South -- two spots higher than a year ago -- and lost a grueling 5-4 conference final to top-seeded Methodist.

Methodist is No. 9, while Berry -- a Rome, Ga., team the Captains defeated on their spring-break trip to central Florida -- is No. 10.

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