BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Seven members of the NCAA Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference announced today that they are leaving the conference effective July 1, 2012, to form a new athletics conference that will begin competition with the 2012-13 academic year. The announcement was made in Atlanta at the 2011 annual meeting of the SCAC presidents.
Spanning six Southeastern states, the new conference will include Birmingham-Southern College; Centre College in Danville, Ky.; Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.; Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.; Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Ga.; Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.; and Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. Joining them to create the new eight-member conference will be Berry College in Rome, Ga.
The new conference is being formed to foster athletics competition and cooperation among academically selective, residential liberal arts colleges located in the Southeastern region of the United States. The geographic focus will result in reduced travel time and costs, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the whole of the scholar-athlete's educational experience.
"This is an important and positive move for Birmingham-Southern College and for its scholar-athletes," said BSC President Gen. Charles C. Krulak, who attended today's meeting. "We are extremely pleased and excited to be joining these seven other outstanding institutions in providing competitive athletics opportunities within the context of a high-quality liberal arts experience, and doing so within our geographic region.
"Given the quality and success of the SCAC over the years, the decision was difficult. The SCAC is an outstanding conference with top-quality academic institutions which also play NCAA Division III sports at the top level of competition. But this new league will offer us the opportunity to continue competing at the highest level athletically against institutions of similar academic mission, while greatly reducing travel costs and the amount of time our scholar-athletes have to be on the road traveling for contests."
Formed in 1991, the SCAC grew out of the College Athletic Conference, which was formed in 1962 by three of the colleges in the new conference (Centre, Rhodes and Sewanee).
Jay Gardiner, who currently serves as athletics director at Oglethorpe, will serve as the new conference's interim commissioner. Oglethorpe President Lawrence Schall, who currently chairs the SCAC executive committee, will serve as convener of the conference's Presidential Council during the 2011-12 academic year. Brian Chafin, athletics director at Centre, will serve as convener of the Athletics Director Council in 2011-12.
The new conference's first official meeting took place immediately following the conclusion of the 2011 annual SCAC meeting this afternoon.
A name for the new league and other logistical information, such as commissioner and conference headquarters, will be announced at a later date.