Seven members of the NCAA Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) including Oglethorpe announced today that they are leaving the conference effective July 1, 2012, to form a new athletic conference beginning with the 2012-13 season.
Spanning six states, the new conference will include Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, Centre College in Kentucky, Hendrix College in Arkansas, Millsaps College in Mississippi, Oglethorpe University in Georgia, and Rhodes College and Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. Joining them to create the new eight-member conference will be Berry College in Rome, Ga.
The new conference is being formed to foster athletic 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 student’s educational experience.
Given the success of the SCAC over the last 20 years, the decision to start anew was difficult. 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). The new conference will continue in this same tradition of academic and athletic excellence.
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.