SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Citadel will host the 2017 Southern Conference Rifle Championship at its Inouye Marksmanship Center, the league office announced Wednesday. The SoCon is adding rifle as its 21st varsity sport for the 2016-17 season.
The 2017 SoCon Rifle Championship will be the first contested by the league in 32 years. The conference previously sponsored rifle for 30 years before discontinuing the sport in 1985.
When the co-educational sport returns to the SoCon, full members The Citadel, VMI and Wofford will be joined by associate members UAB, Georgia Southern and North Georgia to form a six-team league, making the SoCon just the second Division I conference to sponsor rifle. The tournament will take place the first weekend of March 2017, with exact dates to be announced.
The SoCon boasts a rich rifle history, with The Citadel winning a league-best 10 team titles and VMI claiming two in the league’s first incarnation. West Virginia’s John Writer, the 1965 and 1966 SoCon individual champion, won a gold medal in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. ETSU became a player on the national scene from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, winning seven straight SoCon titles and placing third in 1980 at the inaugural NCAA Championship. The Bucs finished no worse than fourth at the NCAA tournament each year from 1980-85.
The NCAA conducts a combined men’s and women’s championship with no regard for NCAA division each March. Participating schools may enter an all-men’s team, an all-women’s team or a mixed team of men and women. As of the 2015-16 season, 29 schools sponsor rifle at the NCAA level.