Second in a series on institutions joining the AAC
The membership of the American Athletic Conference will change significantly with the approaching 2022-23 scholastic year.
Outgoing programs bound for the Big 12 include Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston. The AAC will add Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and Texas-San Antonio from Conference USA.
Know the foe: Charlotte 49ers
Charlotte and East Carolina have some history, having competed in C-USA as fellow members from ECU’s joining in 1997 to Charlotte’s departure in 2004-05 for the Atlantic 10. The Pirates and 49ers have also had numerous nonconference matchups.
The 49ers will become ECU’s closest opponent in the AAC, a distinction that currently belongs to Navy, a football-only member located in Annapolis, MD, which is roughly 310 miles from Greenville. The Queen City is about 250 miles.from Greenville.
The trip to Charlotte from ECU is about 3.5 hours in terms of driving time, a short venture relative to the geographic dispersal of the AAC.
The 49ers have already competed in the AAC in men’s soccer as a league member in 2022, but did not face the Pirates, who no longer play men’s soccer.
Charlotte won its first AAC men’s soccer match, 3-0, over visiting UAB on Sept. 17.
The 49ers concluded their first season in the AAC with a 2-1 loss at South Florida in the quarterfinals of the league tournament on Nov. 6, to finish 9-5-2 overall.
The 2011 men’s soccer team from Charlotte played for the NCAA men’s soccer championship.
The city submitted a bid in the late 1880s for what would become N.C. State in Raleigh.
The Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina was established in 1946 with an enrollment that included a lot of GIs returning from World War II.
Founder Bonnie Cone, a prominent educator, is credited with keeping the institution from being shut down in 1949, when it became Charlotte College, a 2-year junior college..
The college became state-supported in 1958, joining the North Carolina Community College system. The campus moved to its current location in 1961.
The institution became a 4-year college in 1963.
Its official name is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
In 2021, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary, the institution shortened its name for athletic branding purposes to Charlotte.
The 49ers nickname
Because of the energy and spirit involved in keeping the school open in 1949, the nickname 49ers emerged.
The trademark All-in C features a miner’s pickaxe within the letter.
The fact that the campus entrance is on N.C. Highway 49 is a coincidence.
The Charlotte teams were originally known as the Owls because the institution was primarily a night school at its inception.
The 2022-23 U.S. News and World Report ranked Charlotte in a tie for seventh and rated ECU ninth among 38 colleges and universities in North Carolina.
Enrollment at Charlotte was 24,116 in 2021. ECU had an enrollment of 22,463.
Out of state tuition at Charlotte was $21,338 annually with an in-state cost of $7,214. The corresponding figures for ECU were $23,574 and $7,297.
ECU has never played Charlotte in football. The Charlotte Center had football from 1946 to 1948.
Charlotte began play as a Football Championship Subdivision program with a 52-7 win over visiting Campbell on Aug. 31, 2013.
The 49ers joined the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks in 2015.
Buffalo defeated Charlotte, 31-9, in the Bahamas Bowl in 2019.
The 49ers went 3-9 overall and 2-6 in C-USA in 2022. Former Michigan associate head coach Biff Poggi is Charlotte’s new head coach.
Charlotte leads the series with the Pirates, 18-10.
ECU opened its 2020-21 season after a COVID delay with a 66-57 win at Charlotte as Jayden Gardner scored 18 points and Tristen Newton added 15.
The 49ers, coached by Ron Sanchez, are currently 12-7 overall and 3-5 in C-USA after a 62-58 loss at Middle Tennessee State on Thursday night.
Led by Kinston native Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell, Charlotte reached the NCAA Final Four in 1977.
The Pirates have a commanding 34-6 lead in the series.
That included a 3-game sweep at ECU, March 12-14, 2021.
The Pirates took a 3-1 victory in that series finale as Connor Norby and Josh Moylan hit home runs.
The 49ers compete with the Carolina Panthers in football, the Charlotte Hornets in basketball and the Triple-A Charlotte Knights for media attention and fan support.
ECU is the primary athletic program in its region.
The Pirate Club chapter in Charlotte has a significant presence.