Posted by Philip Poole on 2008-08-13

More than 1,000 fans braved late afternoon rain storms to welcome the Southern Conference to Birmingham during the inaugural SoCon FanFest Aug. 12 at Samford University. Samford became the SoCon's 12th member on July 1, and FanFest was billed as an event to welcome Samford to the conference and to introduce the nation's 5th oldest athletics conference to the Birmingham market.

The event, originally scheduled for Samford's Joe Lee Griffin Field, was moved indoors to the Pete Hanna Center, but the rain did not seem to dampen the spirits of fans from Samford and several other SoCon schools who enjoyed a picnic dinner, clowns, games, autographs and photos with players, and performances by the Samford Marching Band and cheerleaders.

Samford's WVSU-FM broadcast a special edition of "Samford Sports Weekly" live from the event and included interviews with SoCon and Samford officials.

"We worried that the rain might hurt the event, but the opposite appears to be true," said Samford athletics director Bob Roller. "Fans came and stayed to enjoy a full evening. We were very pleased."

SoCon officials also expressed pleasure at the successful evening. They plan to make FanFest an annual event rotating among the conference schools.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.