Chowan football joins new conference

Published 4:58 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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MURFREESBORO – For the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the Chowan football program will compete in the Gulf South Conference (GSC), as announced here Thursday afternoon.

The GSC features Delta State, West Georgia, West Alabama, Shorter University, North Greenville (football only), West Florida, Mississippi College, and Valdosta State. Erskine will join the GSC in 2024 as a football only member for one season.

This move guarantees the Hawks eight conference games for the next two seasons with four home games and four road games.

“Our student-athletes are eligible for weekly honors and conference championships in the GSC,” said Pat Mushuda, Chowan’s Vice President for Athletics. “This is our next step as we move on from the CIAA to the Gulf South. The challenges are significant. There are multiple teams in the Gulf South who have won multiple games in the post-season [NCAA Division II playoffs] just this past year alone. We will have our hands full and we will be tested, but as a former coach and a former player that’s part of the excitement.”

“Over the next two seasons, the Gulf South presents a wonderful opportunity for iron to sharpen iron,” stated Chowan President Dr. Kirk Peterson. “We have entered into a conference with solid football programs and we must be prepared to play our very best. We should take full advantage of this opportunity and set our goals for a steep upward trajectory.”

“Going into the Gulf South is a great opportunity. Obviously it’s a great conference with high level competition. It will give us a great opportunity to compete at a high level,” noted newly hired Chowan head football coach Paul Johnson.

To start the 2023 season, Chowan will hit the road to take on Barton on Aug. 31 before hosting NCAA Playoff participant, Delta State, on Sept. 9 in the program’s first-ever Gulf South contest. The Hawks will then travel to Shorter before a potential bye week in Week 4. Chowan will host Valdosta State on Sept. 30 to wrap up the opening month.

In October, Chowan will face a familiar foe, North Greenville, as the Crusaders compete in the Conference Carolinas in their other sponsored sports. The meeting will be the first since 2007. The Hawks will then hit the road to take on West Georgia (Oct. 14) and Mississippi College (Oct. 21), before wrapping up with a home contest against West Alabama on Oct. 28.

The Hawks will have a bye week before finishing up the season on the road against West Florida. Chowan competed against the Argos during the 2016 and 2017 seasons with both programs winning on their home field.

Mashuda noted that Chowan has two open dates currently listed on its 2023 schedule.

“We’re working to find opponents for at least one of those open dates,” he said. “We would like to fill both.”

The affiliation with the GSC will be brief as starting with the 2025 season, the Chowan football program will move to the Conference Carolinas as a full member. Conference Carolinas just announced the addition of Shorter University as the league’s 15th member and sixth football playing member in 2024-25.

It will mark the first time in Chowan’s Division II history that all of Chowan’s sponsored sports will be under the same conference affiliation. Conference Carolinas will feature six programs with football: Barton, Chowan, Erskine, UNC Pembroke, North Greenville, and Shorter.

We’re excited of what the future holds. We will move forward together,” Mashuda said.