History of the SCAC

History of the SCAC

The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) was founded and began operation on September 1, 1962, as the College Athletic Conference (CAC). The league's first primary mark is pictured on the left.

Centre College of Danville, Kentucky; Southwestern at Memphis (Tennessee) (now known as Rhodes College); The University of the South of Sewanee, Tennessee; and Washington and Lee University of Lexington, Virginia, were the four charter members of the conference. Later in 1962, Washington University of St. Louis, Missouri, became the fifth member and the CAC remained unchanged until 1972. 

Following membership changes throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the conference went through restructuring and renaming. With the addition of Millsaps College of Jackson, Mississippi, and Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas, in 1988 and Hendrix College of Conway, Arkanasas, and Oglethorpe University of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1991, membership reached a then all-time high of eight.

That same year (1991), the conference renamed itself the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, hired its first full-time commissioner - Stephen P. Argo - and a permanent conference office was established in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of restructuring, the league also adopted its current primary mark (pictured right) and adopted blue (pms 287) and gold (pms 131) as the official colors of the conference.

Membership changes continued throughout the '90s. The SCAC added Southwestern University of Georgetown, Texas, in 1993 with participation beginning in the 1994-95 academic year. In 1997-98, the SCAC added both DePauw University of Greencastle, Indiana, and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology of Terre Haute, Ind., with participation beginning in 1998-99.

As part of a year-long celebration in 2005-06, the league celebrated its 15th anniversary as the restructured SCAC. The league adopted a special anniversary logo (pictured left) and as part of the celebration, 15th anniversary teams were selected for all conference sponsored sports.

After Rose-Hulman announced its intentions to leave the conference, Austin College of Sherman, Texas and Colorado College of Colorado Springs, Colorado, were confirmed as the 10th and 11th members of the league in 2006 with participation beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.

Birmingham-Southern College of Birmingham, Alabama, a former member of the Division I Big South Conference, was approved as the 12th member of the SCAC and began play in 2007-08.

Prior to the 2010-11 academic year, DePauw University announced that it would leave the conference. The University of Dallas was quickly tabbed to replace DePauw effective July 1, 2011 - maintaining the league's membership total at 12 institutions.

In 2010-11, the league celebrated its 20th anniversary as the restructured SCAC. As part of the celebration, in addition to the use of a special mark (pictured right), the league office selected the Top 20 moments for each conference-sponsored sport. Those moments were announced throughout the 2010-11 academic year.

After the conclusion of the June 7, 2011 SCAC Presidents' meeting, the conference announced that seven of its twelve member institutions would be leaving to form a new conference effective at the conclusion of the 2011-12 academic year. The schools departing include founding CAC/SCAC members Centre College, Sewanee-The University of the South, and Rhodes College, in addition to Birmingham-Southern College, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, and Oglethorpe University.

With membership down to five institutions – the conference’s lowest number since the 1979-80 academic year – the “new” SCAC wasted little time in adding to its membership rolls.

On September 28, 2011, Centenary College of Louisiana, a former American Southwest Conference institution, announced it would be joining the SCAC beginning in the 2012-2013 season. Two more ASC schools chose to come aboard the SCAC for the 2013-14 season: Schreiner University announced its decision on January 23, 2012, and on February 16, 2012, Texas Lutheran University announced it too would join the SCAC.

The addition of Texas Lutheran insured that the conference would retain its status as an active NCAA Division III conference as well as automatic bids in nine of its 14 AQ sports, including baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, softball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and volleyball.

In 2015-16, the conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of the league's name change from the College Athletic Conference (CAC) to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). The restructuring of the SCAC in 1991 was significant in many ways but the most prominent result of that restructuring was the addition of women's athletics as part of the conference's sports sponsorship package. A special "silver anniversary" logo was produced by the conference office (pictured left) and featured prominently throughout the academic year to celebrate and recognize the history and growth of the SCAC over the last 25 years.

Johnson & Wales University (Denver) accepted an offer of membership in February of 2017, becoming the ninth member of the SCAC, and began league play in 2018-19. In February of 2018, the University of St. Thomas (Texas) was offered and accepted membership in the league, becoming the SCAC's 10th member with participation slated for the 2019-20 academic year

On the national athletics stage, the SCAC has had its fair share of success - both in terms of team championships (10) and individual championships (34).

In the days when the league was known at the College Athletic Conference, Chris Fugman of Centre College gave the conference its first individual title with a victory in the 400 IM at the 1980 NCAA Division III Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, and Chris Trapp of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology won the men's javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Track Field national championships three straight years (1984-1986).

Nao Kinoshita of Rhodes College won the 1996 Division III women's tennis singles title, capturing the first individual national title in the SCAC era. Kinoshita also won the 1997 singles title and combined with Taylor Tarver to capture the '97 doubles title.

Ryan Loftus of Rose-Hulman captured the men's pole vault title at the 1998 Indoor Track & Field championships.

Heather Stone of University of the South-Sewanee claimed both the women's indoor and outdoor 1,500 meter titles in 2000. And later that same season, the league claimed its first team national championships as Trinity University won both the men's and women's tennis titles.

In the winter of 2003, Matt Smith of Rose-Hulman won the 100 yard breaststroke at the Division III men's national swimming championships, and Trinity captured the women's basketball championship - all in the same weekend.

The following fall (in 2003), the Trinity men's soccer team gave the league title #4, and the DePauw women's basketball team became the fifth team from the conference to win a national championship when it captured the 2006-07 Division III title.

Trinity's Christyn Schumann won the women's high jump at three consecutive NCAA Outdoor Track & Field national championships (2004-06), and Liz Bondi of DePauw captured the 16th individual national championship won by a CAC/SCAC student-athlete when she won the 2007 women's tennis singles title.

The 2008-09 season was a banner year as one team and three individual student-athletes won national titles for the SCAC. Todd Wildman of Trinity won the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field national championships and Chrys Jones of Centre College won the triple jump at the Outdoor Track & Field national championships. On the links, the Oglethorpe University men earned the league's sixth team title with a first-place finish at the NCAA Golf Championships. The Petrels were led by Olafur Loftsson, who earned medalist honors and the league's 19th individual title.

In 2009-10, the SCAC had four different individuals win a total of five national titles. Todd Wildman of Trinity won his second-consecutive indoor national title in the pentathlon. Centre's Chrys Jones double-dipped and claimed national titles in the triple jump at the both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor national championships. At the 2010 NCAA Swimming & Diving championships, Trinity teammates Lindsay Martin and Hayley Emerick claimed individual titles in the 1-meter and 3-meter boards, respectively.

In 2010-11, Chrys Jones became just the second SCAC student-athlete to win four career individual national titles as he repeated at the NCAA Indoor national championships in the triple jump. Centre's Chris Morris earned the league its 26th individual national title when he claimed medalist honors at the 2011 NCAA Golf Championships.

The 2011-12 academic year was one of the most successful in the league's 50-year history. Tiarra Goode of Birmingham-Southern College won the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field national championships, Jordan DeGayner of Colorado College won the 200 free at the NCAA Swimming & Diving national championships and Ruth Hahn of Trinity University continued the Tigers' diving dominanace with an individual title on the 3-meter board. Later in the spring, SCAC student-athletes earned two more individual national titles with Anthony Maccaglia of Oglethorpe University earning the league its third medalist in four years at the NCAA Men's Golf championship and Birmingham's Goode picked up her second individual national title with a win in the 100-meter hurdels at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championships. In addition, Oglethorpe University earned the conference its seventh team national title with a victory at the 2012 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships.

The "new" SCAC returned to national prominence in 2013-14 as Stephen Culberson of Trinity University won the 100 free at the 2014 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships and, in its first year in the conference, Schreiner University gave the conference its eighth team national championship with a victory at the 2014 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships - the league's third national title in the sport in six years. 

In 2015-16, the league's 25th anniversary year, Trinity University earned the first Division III baseball championship by any program hailing from Texas and the ninth team national title for a SCAC school. The following academic year, Texas Lutheran University's Marquis Brown claimed the conference's 34th individual national title when he won the NCAA Division III Men's Indoor National Championship for the 400 meters.

In the spring of 2019, Texas Lutheran University won the league its 10th team national championship, taking home the Division III Softball Championship with a 2-0 sweep of Emory University in the best-of-three final.

A bell, donated by the Norfolk and Western Railway, was adopted as the SCAC's "President's Trophy" and serves as the symbol for the conference. The President's Trophy is displayed for one year on the campus of the school with the combined men's and women's athletics program that accumulates the highest points total in the all-sports race established by the conference. The bell is awarded at the conclusion of the spring season.