In 2019, the North Carolina A&T Aggies began exploring a path to the FBS. Its move from the MEAC to the Big Sky was undoubtedly an indicator the largest HBCU in America was on its way to playing with the big boys. After all, Coastal Carolina and Liberty are two Big Sky alums currently in the FBS (Coastal plays in the Sun Belt while Liberty is an independent). Moving to the Colonial Athletic Association was curious at first glance. The Aggies' transition is about more than football while keeping its dream of possibly playing FBS football someday alive.
The move was as much about academics as football as Athletic Director Earl Hinton intimated during his presentation to the Board of Trustees. According to Hinton's presentation, the Colonial aligns with the goals of the school's athletic program and its academic ones. Along with being the largest HBCU in the country, A&T also wants to be the leading research university among HBCUs.
The CAA has four R1 level research universities in the conference, where NC A&T aspires to be. The Aggies are currently an R2 research university.
According to A&T's chancellor Dr. Harold Martin, the CAA was their conference of choice when they first moved from the MEAC, but the travel was not feasible. However, the move makes more sense with the CAA moving to divisions. In addition, moving to the CAA does not derail their hopes of moving to the FBS level someday.
However, this move is about more than football, and there is nothing wrong with that in the least.