HBCU News

Duer Sharp resigned as SWAC Commissioner; member school presidents & athletic directors seek a better future for the league

Duer Sharp.

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The long-serving commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) which serves historically black member institutions, Duer Sharp, has resigned this past Thursday amid rumors of potential financial issues and concern among member school presidents about the direction of the conference under his leadership.

According to The Advocate, The SWAC will hold its winter meetings in Houston, where school presidents and chancellors met Thursday morning. Southern director of athletics Roman Banks stated that the council of presidents accepted Sharp’s resignation. But it is unsure whether Sharp’s resignation is effective immediately, or if he will stay in his post throughout the remainder of his contract, which is set to expire this summer.

As of today, the SWAC office has yet to issue a statement regarding Sharp’s future.

Banks stated that there was no official record of who was or was not displeased with Sharp’s performance as commissioner. But Banks said, there was a unanimous concern” about the SWAC stability and the direction the league was taking.

“Also among the concerns was a lack of sponsorships,” Banks said, which “prompted us (Southern) to look around at other leagues.”

 Sharp started with the conference as assistant commissioner in 2004 and has served as commissioner since 2008. Under he leadership, the league secured a spot in the Celebration Bowl opposite the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, and it also orchestrated the move of the league’s football and basketball conference championships to Houston in 2013.
Earlier this year, the SWAC announced that this year’s football conference championship game would be its last.

The decision is believed to be related to the high cost of hosting the game at NRG Stadium in Houston, the home of the Houston Texans. And when combined with an earlier decision to change the league’s scheduling format from a nine-game round-robin schedule to a seven-game schedule, which opened the door for potential chaos when it came to determining a sole champion to represent the SWAC in the Celebration Bowl.

“By focusing on the Celebration Bowl, we can continue to grow (it) as an HBCU classic for the teams and fans of both conferences and for HBCU football nationally,” Sharp said in June.

 Banks said SWAC athletics directors “unanimously agreed” to look at re-instituting the SWAC championship game next season when the conference will still operate with a seven-game schedule

“We need to be fair,” Banks said. “We need to make sure it’s settled on the field.”

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