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New England Small College Athletic Conference

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from eleven highly selective liberal arts institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The eleven institutions are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Tufts University, Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College.

New England Small College Athletic Conference
New England Small College Athletic Conference logo
DivisionDivision III
Sports fielded
  • 26
    • men's: 13
    • women's: 13
RegionNew England (except New Hampshire and Rhode Island) and New York
HeadquartersHadley, Massachusetts
CommissionerAndrea Savage (since 1999)
New England Small College Athletic Conference locations

The conference originated with an agreement among Amherst, Bowdoin, Wesleyan and Williams in 1955. In 1971, Bates, Colby, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, and Union College joined on and the NESCAC was officially formed. Union withdrew in 1977 and was replaced by Connecticut College in 1982. The members are grouped within the NCAA Division III athletic conference. Members of the conference have some of the largest financial endowments of any liberal arts colleges in the world, with Williams College's $2.6 billion being the largest. Undergraduate enrollment at the schools ranges from about 1,792 (Bates) to 5,500 (Tufts).


Member colleges of the athletic conference possesses some of the largest financial endowments in the world. As of the 2016-2017 academic year, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has the largest endowment of any college in the conference.[1][2]

College Location Athletic nickname Enrollment 2017 endowment Colors Founded
Amherst College Amherst, Massachusetts Mammoths[note 1] 1,817 $2.25 billion[3]           1821
Bates College Lewiston, Maine Bobcats 1,792 $345 million[4]           1855
Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine Polar Bears 1,805 $1.46 billion[5]           1794
Colby College Waterville, Maine Mules 1,838 $775 million[6]           1813
Connecticut College New London, Connecticut Camels 1,911 $290 million[7]           1911
Hamilton College Clinton, Oneida County, New York Continentals 1,864 $905 million[8]           1793
Middlebury College Middlebury, Vermont Panthers 2,507 $1.07 billion[9]           1800
Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bantams 2,344 $584 million[10]           1823
Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts Jumbos 5,138 $1.77 billion[11]           1852
Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut Cardinals 2,870 $1 billion[12]           1831
Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts Ephs 2,124 $2.44 billion[13]           1793
  1. ^ Amherst's original, unofficial nickname for its teams, the Lord Jeffs, was retired in 2016 due to controversy over the propriety of honoring Lord Jeffrey Amherst.


The 1901 Williams College football team posing for a photo in the yearbook.

Williams began its inaugural football season in 1881 and its rivalry with Amherst College is one of the longest at any level of college football.[14] Bates and Bowdoin have competed against each other athletically since the 1870s and subsequently share one of the ten oldest NCAA Division III football rivalries, in the United States, there is a long history of athletic competition between the two colleges and Colby.[15][16] Colby began its now most notable hockey rivalry, with Bowdoin in 1922.[17]

In 1899, Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams schools first began to compete together as the "Triangular League". Since then they have continued to play each other in most sports on a regular basis.[18][19][20][21] The conference originated with an agreement among Amherst, Bowdoin, Wesleyan and Williams in 1955.[22] Later, Bates, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts joined and the NESCAC was officially formed. The Conference was created out of a concern for the direction of intercollegiate athletic programs and remains committed to keeping a proper perspective on the role of sport in higher education.[22]

Member institutions believe athletic teams should be representative of school's entire student bodies and hew to NCAA Division III admissions and financial policies prohibiting athletic scholarships while awarding financial aid solely on the basis of need. Due to the prestigious reputations of its member schools, the NESCAC is able to attract many of the most athletically and intellectually gifted student-athletes in the country. Members stress that intercollegiate athletic programs should operate in harmony with the educational mission of each institution. Schools are committed to maintaining common boundaries to keep athletics strong yet in proportion to their overall academic mission. Presidents of each NESCAC institution control intercollegiate athletic policy. Conference tenets are usually more restrictive than those of the NCAA Division III regarding season length, number of contests and post-season competition.[22]

Membership timelineEdit

Connecticut CollegeUnion CollegeWilliams CollegeWesleyan UniversityTufts UniversityTrinity College (Connecticut)Middlebury CollegeHamilton College (New York)Colby CollegeBowdoin CollegeBates CollegeAmherst College 


Reaching the Ivory Tower: Systemic Grade Deflation (2005)
School Grade Deflation Score Source
Amherst 84.5/100 [23]
Bates 85.5/100 [23]
Bowdoin 83.5/100 [23]
Colby 81.5/100 [23]
Connecticut N/A [23]
Hamilton 83.0/100 [23]
Middlebury 86.0/100 [23]
Trinity 77.5/100 [23]
Tufts N/A [23]
Wesleyan 87.0/100 [23]
Williams 89.0/100 [23]

Many schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference are known for low grade inflation, grade deflation, and rigorous academic standards.[24][23] Some members have received limited media coverage over perceived grade inflation and deflation.[25][26][23]

The colleges are also known for a range of high and relatively low tuition rates and comprehensive fees, some of the colleges have been named the most expensive in the United States.[27]

Geographic distributionEdit

Most applicants to schools in the NESCAC come from the Northeast, largely from the New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia areas. As all NESCAC schools are located on the East Coast, and all but one are in New England, most graduates end up working and residing in the Northeast after graduation.[28]

Greek lifeEdit

Many colleges banned fraternities and sororities on the grounds of unwarranted exclusivity, and provided on-campus social houses for all students to engage with. Williams College displaced their fraternity system in the 1960s due to high levels of racial and religious discrimination. Williams College President Chandler stated, "there remained the system of blackballing and secret agreements between some fraternities and their national bodies to exclude blacks and Jews... it was essentially a caste system based on socioeconomic status as perceived by students."[29]

Bates rejected the fraternity system in 1855, when it was founded. Colby disbanded its fraternities and sororities in 1984.[30] At Bowdoin, fraternities were phased out in 2000.[31] Despite the lack of Greek life, NESCAC schools are widely known for a prominent drinking culture.[32][33][34][35]

Schools within the NESCAC conference have made institutional efforts to diversify student body, and attract and wide range of students to their institutions. Many schools in the NESCAC provide significant financial aid to help increase the enrollment of lower income and middle class students.[36][37]

Notable alumniEdit

Schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference have graduated three U.S. presidents. The first president to graduate from the athletic conference was Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, a Bowdoin graduate of 1856.[38] The 20th president, James A. Garfield, graduated from Williams College in 1888.[39] The third U.S. president to graduate from a NESCAC institution was Calvin Coolidge, who graduated from Amherst College in 1895.[40] President Chester Arthur was an 1848 graduate of Union College,[41] a former NESCAC member, and President Woodrow Wilson was a professor at Wesleyan from 1888 to 1890.[42]

Competition and athleticsEdit

The mascot of Tufts University is the elephant.

Four NESCAC institutions are among the 39 that founded the NCAA in 1905: Amherst, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Williams.[43] Prior to 1993 NESCAC generally did not allow member schools to send teams to NCAA championships. Since then all sports except football have had this freedom, many excelling in the NCAA Division III championships. The NACDA Directors' Cup, awarded since 1996 to the college or university in each NCAA Division that wins the most college championships, has been claimed at the Division III level by a NESCAC institution every year except 1998. In the 2012–13 season, four of the top ten NACDA Director's Cup institutions were from NESCAC: Williams (1), Middlebury (3), Amherst (6), and Tufts (8).[44]

Football schedulingEdit

Until the 2017 season, the 10 football-playing NESCAC schools only played 8 regular season games. On April 27, 2017, the NESCAC announced that it would adopt a full 9-game round robin schedule.[45] Prior to 2017, NESCAC football teams rotated their opening opponents on the below two-year cycle.[46][47]

In addition to the ban on post-season play, the NESCAC football league is notable for member teams playing conference games only. While some Division II and Division III teams play only conference schedules, NESCAC is unique in all of its members playing only within conference games.[48]

Athletic spendingEdit

The U.S. Department of Education publishes statistics on athletic spending by colleges. In 2013–14, athletic spending by NESCAC schools was as follows:[49]

School Athletic spending Amount per (unduplicated) athlete Division III rank Amount per student
Amherst $5,822,492 $10,324 41 $3,262
Bates $5,181,170 $7,631 15 $3,293
Bowdoin $5,905,648 $9,072 18 $3,303
Colby $5,149,582 $8,110 19 $2,829
Connecticut $3,756,307 $7,322 66 $2,006
Hamilton $4,869,188 $8,618 38 $2,557
Middlebury $5,235,614 $7,588 13 $2,132
Trinity $5,885,489 $8,945 16 $2,752
Tufts $4,342,883 $5,752 4 $849
Wesleyan $5,379,896 $9,134 24 $1,863
Williams $7,276,419 $9,780 5 $3,548

Note: Nine (out of the eleven) NESCAC schools rank in the top 25 Division III for total athletic spending. With the exception of Connecticut College, all NESCAC schools rank in the top 10% of Division III for # of varsity athletes. Connecticut College athletic spending and # of varsity athletes are lowest because it does not have a football team. Tufts per-student athletic spending is low because it has nearly double the undergraduate population (5,100) of its nearest NESCAC rival (Wesleyan, with 2,800), and it has not emphasized athletic spending.

Conference venuesEdit

School Football Basketball Soccer
Stadium Capacity Arena Capacity Stadium Capacity
Amherst Pratt Field 8,000 LeFrak Gymnasium 2,450 Hitchcock Field 6,000
Bates Garcelon Field 3,000 Alumni Gymnasium 750 Russel Street Field 4,000
Bowdoin Whittier Field 9,000 Morrell Gymnasium 2,000 Pickard Field 4,500
Colby Harold Alfond Stadium 5,000 Wadsworth Gymnasium 2,500 Colby Soccer Field 3,700
Connecticut Non-football school N/A Luce Fieldhouse 800 Freeman Field 1,000
Hamilton Steuben Field 2,500 Margaret Bundy Scott Field House 2,500 Love Field 2,500
Middlebury Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium 3,500 Pepin Gymnasium 1,200 Middlebury Soccer Field 1,200
Trinity Jessee/Miller Field 6,500 Oosting Gym 2,000 Jessee/Miller Field 6,500
Tufts Ellis Oval 6,000 Cousens Gym 1,000 Ellis Oval 6,000
Wesleyan Andrus Field 5,000 Silloway Gymnasium 1,200 Jackson Field 1,200
Williams Weston Field 10,000 Chandler Gymnasium 2,900 Weston Field 10,000

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Convey, Eric (November 10, 2015). "Williams College's financial muscle grows with impressive endowment return". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  2. ^ "Williams College Endowment Fund". Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  3. ^
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  7. ^
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  9. ^
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  13. ^
  14. ^ "Williams". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  15. ^ Nevin, David (1970). Muskie of Maine. Ladd Library, Bates College: Random House, New York. p. 99.
  16. ^ Woz, Markus (2002). Traditionally Unconventional. Ladd Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Bates College. p. 6.
  17. ^ Klein, Jeff Z. "Want a Real Rivalry? Try Bowdoin-Colby". Slap Shot. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  18. ^ One version of the facts: my life in ... - Henry Edmison Duckworth - Google Books. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  19. ^ "The Global Language Monitor » Blog Archive » 2011 Top 300 Colleges and Universities Ranked by Internet 'Brand Equity'". Archived from the original on November 24, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  20. ^ "Around the Courts: College Squash Weekend Highlights (1/30/2011)". College Squash Association. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  21. ^ "M. Squash | Big tuneups versus 'Little Three'". The Daily Pennsylvanian. January 16, 2009. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  22. ^ a b c "NESCAC".
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Schimler, Stuart (2005). Reaching the Ivory Tower: College Admissions and Beyond. Empire Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9780976624608.
  24. ^ "Amherst Mag - When It Comes to Grade Inflation, Think "When in Rome..."". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  25. ^ "The Amherst Student Opinion Grade Inflation Devalues Education". Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  26. ^ "Grade Inflation : EphBlog". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  27. ^ Staley, Oliver. "Bates Charging $51,300 Leads Expensive U.S. Colleges List". Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  28. ^ Clark, Charles E. (2005). Bates Through the Years: an Illustrated History. Edmund Muskie Archives: Bates College, Lewiston, Maine. p. 37.
  29. ^ Schonfeld, Zach. "Inside the Colleges that killed Frats for Good".
  30. ^[dead link] Retrieved 2016-04-15
  31. ^ Retrieved 2016-04-15
  32. ^ "BSG discusses NESCAC alcohol survey, printing plan — The Bowdoin Orient". The Bowdoin Orient. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  33. ^ "NESCAC Schools Survey Alcohol Use". The Middlebury Campus. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  34. ^ Zach. "NESCAC NEWS: Over 50 Colby Students Facing Alcohol Charges". Wesleying. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  35. ^ "Let's Talk About Booze Part 3". Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  36. ^ "Student Financial Services, Bates College". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  37. ^ "Financial Aid". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  38. ^ "Franklin Pierce: Life Before the Presidency—Miller Center". March 10, 2016. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  39. ^ "James A. Garfield - U.S. Presidents -". Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  40. ^ "Calvin Coolidge: Life Before the Presidency—Miller Center". January 24, 2016. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  42. ^ David B. Potts, Wesleyan University, 1831–1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New ... (1999)
  43. ^ NCAA News Archive - Founding members hold true to NCAA educational mission
  44. ^
  45. ^ "NESCAC Football Moves to Full Round-Robin Schedule". Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  46. ^ "Jumbos Welcome Wesleyan to Ellis Oval/Zimman Field on Saturday for 2012 Football Opener". Tufts.
  47. ^ "2016 NESCAC Football - NESCAC". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  48. ^ "NESCAC".
  49. ^ "Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Cutting Tool Website".

External linksEdit