CHARLOTTE – The CIAA doesn’t plan to raid the MEAC for schools, according to Jacqie McWilliams, the CIAA commissioner.
With the announcement earlier this month that N.C. A&T, an original member of the MEAC, will be leaving that conference for the Big South there is natural curiosity as to what will happen next. A&T used to be in the CIAA before the MEAC was formed.
McWilliams said she has not heard any talk about MEAC schools going through a transition to move from Division I to Division II and the CIAA.
“There’s hasn’t been any talk,” McWilliams said. “Once that announcement was made and they are following what Hampton did the question was what will the MEAC look like. But I just hope that Dr. (Dennis) Thomas (the MEAC commissioner) is able to sustain what they have an maybe bring in somebody new.”
McWilliams, however, also added she hopes the MEAC doesn’t look at the CIAA to add schools.
“I think with talking with my board (the CIAA presidents and chancellors) Division II is the best bet financially and what we stand for in giving student-athletes opportunities,” McWilliams said.
McWilliams said there could be more conversations about expansion in the CIAA after the tournament is over. Two years ago the league welcomed Claflin, which does not play football.
“In our spring meetings we always talk about expansion,” McWilliams said. “We will continue to explore and see what’s out there and what can make us a better conference overall.”
Lamonte not worried about contract
Coach L’Tona Lamonte’s four-year contract ends this summer, but she’s not worried at this point.
Lamonte’s injury-riddled team somehow made it to the CIAA Tournament semifinals before losing on Friday afternoon to Fayetteville State.
As far as consistency goes, the Rams have finished in third place in the Southern Division all four of her seasons.
“We’ve been in conversations about it,” Lamonte said about talking with Etienne Thomas, WSSU’s athletics director who started Jan. 1. “But I know we have a lot of things going in with the state budget. It’s been great because I haven’t really thought about it all season and I’ve been more focused on our team getting better every day.”
Lamonte, a WSSU graduate who played softball and basketball who is from Winston-Salem, is 58-56 in her four seasons.
“When our new AD was hired I just told her it will be her decision to make if she would like to me to stay and I told her I’m going to coach this season like it’s my last but I do that with everything in life,” Lamonte said.
Another positive for Lamonte is her team’s grade point average for the fall semester was the highest of any program on campus. The team's collective GPA has constantly been one of the best in the school among all the teams.
Colon, Barnes finally a winner in Charlotte
For the first time in their outstanding careers at WSSU, Rob Colon and Julius Barnes walked off the floor at the CIAA Tournament with a win.
Colon and Barnes, the only four-year seniors on the Rams, were 0-3 in tournament games before Thursday night’s win over Livingstone at the Spectrum Center.
“It felt good for sure,” said Barnes, who had 10 points and hit three key baskets in the second half. “Rob and I were excited but we know we want to accomplish more here in our final season. But it did feel good to finally win a tournament game.”
Cleo Hill Jr. of WSSU was named the CIAA coach of the year last week for the second time in his career. He also was named the coach of the year at Shaw in 2012. He’s the first WSSU men’s coach to be named coach of the year since Phillip Stitt in 2005….
After a 15-year run in Charlotte, the CIAA tournaments will move to Baltimore for at least the next three years. The tournament has moved several times in the 75 years of existence. McWilliams says that the conference has to continue to look for ways to grow. “We’ve been all over and in moving this tournament and people tend to get over the fear of leaving one place and going to another pretty quickly,” she said. “We are going to Baltimore next year, but we want to make sure we celebrate our 15 years in Charlotte this year as well.”…
WSSU’s women were trying to get to the CIAA championship game for the third time. It lost in 1985 to Hampton 93-84 under Coach Stenson Conley. The Rams also got to the championship game in 2002 under Coach Daymond Lindell but lost to Virginia State 64-57….
Roger Ray of Livingstone completed one of the best careers in the CIAA after Thursday’s loss to Winston-Salem State in the quarterfinals. Ray, the CIAA player of the year, finished his career with 1,994 career points and is the school’s all-time leading in points and assists. His 1,994 career points is 29th best in CIAA history.