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The South Atlantic Conference (SAC) is a collegiate athletic conference which operates in the southeastern United States. It participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s Division II level. The SAC was founded in 1975 as a football-only conference and became an all-sports conference beginning with the 1989–90 season.

South Atlantic Conference
South Atlantic Conference logo
DivisionDivision II
Members12 (13 in 2020)
Sports fielded
  • 20
    • men's: 10
    • women's: 10
RegionSoutheastern United States
HeadquartersRock Hill, South Carolina
CommissionerPatrick Britz (since 2008)
South Atlantic Conference locations

The league currently sponsors 10 sports for men (football, cross country, soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, golf) and 10 sports for women (volleyball, cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, softball, tennis, and golf).



South Atlantic Conference
Location of SAC members:   current and   future

The distant forerunner of the South Atlantic Conference was the North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NSIAC). The NSIAC was formed when the "Little Six", as it was called, broke from the North Carolina Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1930. The charter members included Appalachian State Teachers College (now Appalachian State University), Lenoir–Rhyne College (now Lenoir–Rhyne University), Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), Catawba College, Guilford College, Elon College (now Elon University), and High Point College (now High Point University).

The North State continued to grow over the next 30 years, adding Western Carolina University (1933), East Carolina University (1947) and Pfeiffer College (now Pfeiffer University) (1960). A name change became necessary when the league accepted Newberry College as its first member from the state of South Carolina in 1961. The league took on the name Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAC) on May 20 of that year.

The CIAC saw several changes in the following years as East Carolina withdrew from the league in 1962. Appalachian State and Western Carolina followed in 1971 and 1976. All three landed in the Southern Conference (SoCon).

The South Atlantic Conference was founded in 1975 solely as a football conference. The league received its name from a contest in which Kurt Brenneman of Greensboro, North Carolina became the first to submit the SAC-8 moniker.

The SAC-8 consisted of Carson–Newman College (now Carson–Newman University), Catawba College, Elon College, Gardner–Webb College (now Gardner–Webb University), Lenoir–Rhyne College, Mars Hill College (now Mars Hill University), Newberry College, and Presbyterian College. Dr. Fred Bentley, of Mars Hill College, was named league president for its inaugural year, by a vote of the member institutions.

After the first season of play in the SAC-8, the Bears of Lenoir–Rhyne College captured the first football title.

In 1989, the league's 15th year of operation, the South Atlantic Conference became a comprehensive, multi-sport conference. Doug Echols was named the league's first Commissioner. That year the South Atlantic Conference sponsored 10 sports – football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's soccer, volleyball, men's golf, men's and women's tennis. Later the conference grew to 14 championship sports by adding women's soccer (1990), men's and women's cross country (1993) and women's golf (1999). In 2013, the sports of men's and women's lacrosse and men's and women's track and field were added, increasing the number of championship sports to 18.

The South Atlantic Conference was composed of the same eight member institutions from 1975–76 until 1988–89, when Wingate College (now Wingate University) replaced Newberry College as the eighth member institution. Newberry College later re-joined the conference in the 1996–97 season.

In July 1998, Tusculum College was admitted as a member of the league, and Lincoln Memorial University began play in the conference in the 2006–07 academic year. Brevard College was admitted to the SAC as a provisional member in 2007 and a full member in 2008.

In 2008, Echols retired after serving as Commissioner for 19 years and Patrick Britz was hired as the new Commissioner.

In July 2010, Anderson University became the league's 10th member. Three years later in July 2013, Coker College and Queens University of Charlotte joined the conference.[1] On April 13, 2018, UVA-Wise announced that it was joining the South Atlantic Conference for the 2019-20 season.[2] The most recent change to the conference membership was announced on April 5, 2019, when Limestone College, which had joined as a football-only member in 2017 and added field hockey to its SAC membership the next year, was announced as a new full member effective in 2020–21, the same time it is set to attain university status.[3]

The SAC and Conference Carolinas entered into a partnership in the 2018–19 school year by which the two leagues would operate as a single conference in field hockey and wrestling, with championships immediately conducted in both sports. The leagues agreed that the SAC would coordinate the field hockey championship, while CC would fill the same role for wrestling. Accordingly, all CC field hockey programs became SAC affiliates, and all SAC wrestling programs became CC affiliates.[4]

Member schoolsEdit

Charter membersEdit

Newberry College left the SAC in 1989 (as a football member), and re-joined in 1996 (as an all-sport member). Wingate replaced Newberry College as the final member for the birth of the all-sport SAC in 1989. Former members Elon, Gardner–Webb, and Presbyterian were charter members of both the SAC-8 football era and the SAC all-sport era.

Current membersEdit

Institution Location Founded Enrollment Nickname Colors Joined
Anderson University Anderson, South Carolina 1848 3,431 Trojans           2010
Carson–Newman University Jefferson City, Tennessee 1851 2,115 Eagles           1975
Catawba College Salisbury, North Carolina 1851 1,300 Indians           1975
Coker College Hartsville, South Carolina 1908 1,000 Cobras           2013
Lenoir–Rhyne University Hickory, North Carolina 1891 1,800 Bears           1975
Lincoln Memorial University Harrogate, Tennessee 1897 2,579 Railsplitters           2006
Mars Hill University Mars Hill, North Carolina 1856 1,300 Lions           1975
Newberry College Newberry, South Carolina 1856 1,070 Wolves           1975;
Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina 1857 2,100 Royals           2013
Tusculum University Tusculum, Tennessee 1794 2,053 Pioneers           1998
University of Virginia's College at Wise Wise, Virginia 1954 2,000 Cavaliers           2019
Wingate University Wingate, North Carolina 1896 2,300 Bulldogs           1989

Future full membersEdit

Institution Location Founded Joining Enrollment Current Conference Nickname Colors
Limestone College Gaffney, South Carolina 1845 2020 3,300 Carolinas Saints          

Affiliate membersEdit

Institution Location Founded Enrollment Nickname Colors Joined Sport Primary
Belmont Abbey College Belmont, North Carolina 1876 1,320 Crusaders           2018 field hockey Carolinas
Converse College Spartanburg, South Carolina 1889 750 Valkyries           2018 field hockey Carolinas
Limestone College Gaffney, South Carolina 1845 3,300 Saints           2017
field hockey

Former membersEdit

Institution Location Founded Nickname Joined Left Current
Brevard College Brevard, North Carolina 1934 Tornados 2008 2017 USA South
Elon University Elon, North Carolina 1889 Phoenix 1975 1997 Colonial Athletic
Gardner–Webb University Boiling Springs, North Carolina 1905 Runnin' Bulldogs 1975 2000 Big South
Presbyterian College Clinton, South Carolina 1880 Blue Hose 1975 2007 Big South

Membership timelineEdit


 Full member (all sports)   Full member (non-football)   Associate member (football-only)   Associate member (sport) 


Conference sports
Sport Men's Women's
Baseball  Y
Basketball  Y  Y
Cross Country  Y  Y
Field Hockey  Y
Football  Y
Golf  Y  Y
Lacrosse  Y  Y
Soccer  Y  Y
Softball  Y
Tennis  Y  Y
Track & Field Indoor  Y  Y
Track & Field Outdoor  Y  Y
Volleyball  Y

Men's sponsored sports by schoolEdit

School Baseball Basketball Cross
Football Golf Lacrosse Soccer Tennis Track
& Field
& Field
Anderson  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 8
Carson–Newman  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
Catawba  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Coker  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
Lenoir–Rhyne  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Lincoln Memorial  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
Mars Hill  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Newberry  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Queens  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
Tusculum  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
UVA–Wise  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 6
Wingate  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Totals 12 12 12 9 12 9 11 12 10 11 110
Affiliate Members
Limestone  Y 1
Future Members
Limestone  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10

Women's sponsored sports by schoolEdit

School Basketball Cross
Golf Lacrosse Soccer Softball Tennis Track
& Field
& Field
Volleyball Total
Anderson  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
Carson–Newman  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
Catawba  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Coker  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 11
Lenoir–Rhyne  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Lincoln Memorial  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Mars Hill  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Newberry  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 11
Queens  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 11
Tusculum  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 9
UVA–Wise  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 7
Wingate  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 10
Totals 12 12 3 12 10 11 12 12 10 11 12 114
Affiliate Members
Belmont Abbey  Y 1
Converse  Y 1
Limestone  Y 1
Future Members
Limestone  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y 11

Other sponsored sports by schoolEdit

Future member Limestone in gray.

School Men Women
& Diving
Volleyball [a] Wrestling Acrobatics &
Tumbling [b]
Volleyball [a]
Bowling [a] Swimming
& Diving
Wrestling [c]
Carson–Newman BMC IND BMC
Catawba BMC BMC
Coker IND CC
Lenoir–Rhyne BMC BMC
Limestone IND IND
Lincoln Memorial IND IND ECC
Mars Hill ASC ASC
Newberry CC
Tusculum [d] [d]
Wingate BMC BMC
  1. ^ a b c De facto Division I sport. The NCAA operates a combined Division I/II national championship in men's volleyball, and single national championship events in beach volleyball and bowling that are open to members of all three divisions.
  2. ^ While gymnastics is an official NCAA sport, acrobatics & tumbling fall outside the scope of NCAA competition.
  3. ^ The NCAA does not sponsor women's wrestling; competition is governed by the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association.
  4. ^ a b Tusculum will add men's volleyball and women's bowling in the 2019–20 school year. The school has yet to announce a conference affiliation for either team.[5]

In addition to the above:

  • Limestone treats its female cheerleaders (though not its male cheerleaders) and all-female dance team as varsity athletes.
  • Tusculum added a varsity team in the non-NCAA sport of men's bowling in 2019–20.[5]

Conference stadia and arenasEdit

Current football member and future full member Limestone in gray for basketball.

School Football Basketball
Stadium Capacity Arena Capacity
Anderson Trojans
non-football school
Abney Athletic Center 1,500
Carson–Newman Eagles Burke–Tarr Stadium 5,500 Holt Fieldhouse 2,000
Catawba Indians Shuford Stadium 4,500 Goodman Gym 3,500
Coker Cobras
non-football school
Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium 700
Lenoir–Rhyne Bears Moretz Stadium 8,500 Shuford Memorial Gymnasium 2,770
Limestone Saints The Reservation 8,250 Timken Center 1,500
Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters
non-football school
Tex Turner Arena 5,000
Mars Hill Lions Meares Stadium 5,000 Stanford Arena 2,800
Newberry Wolves Setzler Field 4,000 Eleazer Arena 1,600
Queens Royals
non-football school
Curry Arena 2,500
Tusculum Pioneers Pioneer Field 1,850 Pioneer Arena 2,500
UVA–Wise Cavaliers Carl Smith Stadium 3,900 David J. Prior Convocation Center 3,000
Wingate Bulldogs Irwin Belk Stadium 3,000 Cuddy Arena 2,300


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Limestone College to Join South Atlantic Conference in 2020-21" (Press release). South Atlantic Conference. April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Conference Carolinas and The South Atlantic Conference Partner to Sponsor Field Hockey and Wrestling" (Press release). South Atlantic Conference. January 25, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Tusculum announces addition of three new sports beginning in 2019-2020" (Press release). Tusculum Pioneers. September 20, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2019.

External linksEdit