The Southern Conference (SoCon) is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Southern Conference football teams compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA). Member institutions are located in the states of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
|Headquarters||Spartanburg, South Carolina|
|Commissioner||Jim Schaus (since 2019)|
Established in 1921, the Southern Conference ranks as the fifth-oldest major college athletic conference in the United States, and either the third- or fourth-oldest in continuous operation, depending on definitions. Among conferences currently in operation, the Big Ten (1896) and Missouri Valley (1907) are indisputably older. The Pac-12 Conference did not operate under its current charter until 1959, but claims the history of the Pacific Coast Conference, founded in 1915, as its own. The Southwest Conference (SWC) was founded in 1914, but ceased operation in 1996. The Big Eight Conference claimed the same history as the Missouri Valley from 1907 to 1928 during its existence; though it essentially merged with four SWC members to form the Big 12 Conference in 1996, the Big 12 does not claim the Big Eight's legacy. The Ivy League was formally organized in 1954 with athletic competition starting in 1955, but claims the history of the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League, which competed from 1901 to 1955, as its own.
The SoCon was the first conference to use the three-point field goal in basketball in a November 29, 1980 game at Western Carolina against Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where Ronnie Carr shot the historic shot from 22 feet (6.7 m) away and the Catamounts won 77–70.
The Southern Conference is considered one of the stronger football conferences in the Football Championship Subdivision and is considered a mid-major conference in basketball. It has also garnered considerable national attention from its recent success in these sports: in particular, former member, three-time Division I NCAA Football champion Appalachian State Mountaineers, who stunned the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines 34–32 on September 1, 2007; from the Davidson Wildcats, who reached the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament by upsetting power programs Gonzaga (a mid-major school which became a power program in the 2000s), Georgetown, and Wisconsin. More recently, the six-time Division I NCAA Football champion Georgia Southern Eagles stunned Southeastern Conference power-house Florida Gators 26–20 in The Swamp on November 23, 2013—the first loss to a lower division opponent in the Florida program's history. In 2015, Furman defeated UCF 16–15 and The Citadel topped South Carolina 23–22 for their second win over the Gamecocks in the past three meetings. On September 4, 2021, East Tennessee State University stunned Vanderbilt 23-3 at their opening game. The SoCon also frequently sees multiple teams selected to participate in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.
|Alfred B. White||1998–2001|
Talks of a new conference for Southern athletics had started as early as fall of 1920. The conference was formed on February 25, 1921 in Atlanta as fourteen member institutions split from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Southern Conference charter members were Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Washington & Lee. In 1922, six more universities – Florida, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tulane, and Vanderbilt joined the conference. The first year of competition for the conference was in 1922, effective January 1. The new rules banned freshman play. Later additions included Sewanee (1924), Virginia Military Institute (1924), and Duke (1929).
The SoCon is particularly notable for having spawned two other major conferences. In 1932, the 13 schools located south and west of the Appalachians (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, University of the South(Sewanee), Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt) all departed the SoCon to form the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In 1953, seven additional schools (Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest) withdrew from the SoCon to form the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The SEC and ACC have gone on to surpass their parent conference in prestige; while the SEC and ACC are considered "power" conferences in Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A), the SoCon dropped to Division I-AA (FCS) in 1982, four years after the top division was split into two levels in 1978.
The SoCon became the first league to hold a post-season basketball tournament to decide a conference champion. Although first played in 1921, it did not become "official" until 1922, and in its first few years included teams which were not conference members. Held at the Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta from February 24 – March 2, 1922, the first meeting was won by North Carolina who defeated non-member Mercer in the Finals 40–25. The SoCon Basketball Tournament continues as the nation's oldest conference tournament. The next-oldest tournament overall is the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament, founded in 1933, but that event was suspended after its 1952 edition and did not resume until 1979. With the demise of the Division II West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2013, whose tournament had been continuously held since 1936, the next-oldest conference tournament in continuous existence is now the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament, first held in 1954.
The all-sports membership changed to 10 schools in 2014 following the departure of Appalachian State, Davidson, Elon, and Georgia Southern, plus the arrival of East Tennessee State (ETSU), Mercer, and VMI. The current football membership stands at nine. UNC Greensboro does not sponsor football, while ETSU, which relaunched its previously dormant football program in 2015, rejoined SoCon football in 2016 after one season as an independent.
The 10 members of the Southern Conference are:
|University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||Chattanooga, Tennessee||1886||1976||Public||11,728||$147.1||Mocs|
|The Citadel||Charleston, South Carolina||1842||1936||Senior Military College||3,693||$305.8||Bulldogs|
|East Tennessee State University||Johnson City, Tennessee||1911||2014[a]||Public||9,151||$130.1||Buccaneers|
|Furman University||Greenville, South Carolina||1826||1936||Private||2,629||$694||Paladins|
|Mercer University||Macon, Georgia||1833||2014||9,026||$424||Bears|
|Samford University||Homewood, Alabama||1841||2008||5,729||$297||Bulldogs|
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greensboro, North Carolina||1891||1997||Public||19,764||$310.3||Spartans|
|Virginia Military Institute||Lexington, Virginia||1839||2014[b]||Senior Military College||1,772||$539.6||Keydets|
|Western Carolina University||Cullowhee, North Carolina||1889||1976||Public||12,243||$88.9||Catamounts|
|Wofford College||Spartanburg, South Carolina||1854||1997||Private||1,773||$208.1||Terriers|
On January 9, 2014, the SoCon and Atlantic Sun Conference, now branded as the ASUN Conference, announced a new alliance in lacrosse that took effect with the 2014–15 school year (2015 lacrosse season). Under its terms, sponsorship of men's lacrosse shifted from the ASUN to the SoCon, while women's lacrosse sponsorship remained with the ASUN. Bellarmine, which had announced it would join the ASUN for men's lacrosse for the 2015 season, instead joined the SoCon. The alliance remains in effect in men's lacrosse, but the leagues amicably ended their full alliance in women's lacrosse once the SoCon began sponsoring that sport in the 2018 season. The men's lacrosse partnership will take a slightly different form from the 2022 season forward, as the ASUN will reinstate its men's lacrosse league. The two full ASUN members with men's lacrosse programs will separate, with Jacksonville remaining in SoCon men's lacrosse while Bellarmine will join the ASUN men's lacrosse league. Current SoCon associate Air Force will also leave for ASUN men's lacrosse. The SoCon will maintain its automatic NCAA tournament berth with the addition of Hampton.
The most recent addition to the associate membership is Presbyterian wrestling, which joined during summer 2019. Two women's lacrosse members, Central Michigan and Detroit Mercy, left after the 2020 season to join the new women's lacrosse league of Central's full-time home of the Mid-American Conference.
In the table below, the "Joined" column denotes the start of the school year in which the institution became an associate member, which for spring sports differs from the first season of competition.
Departing associate members are highlighted in red. While Bellarmine men's lacrosse will leave after the 2021 season, it will remain a SoCon wrestling associate.
- The 2013 date reflects the departure of Appalachian State from the SoCon to join the Sun Belt Conference. The Mountaineers have competed in SoCon wrestling continuously since the league first sponsored the sport in 1993–94.
- The 2014 date reflects the departure of Davidson from the SoCon to join the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Wildcats have competed in SoCon wrestling continuously since the league first sponsored the sport in 1993–94.
- On January 10, 2012, the University System of Georgia approved the consolidation of North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College to form a new institution, the University of North Georgia in January 2013
Future associate membersEdit
|Hampton University||Hampton, Virginia||1868||2021||Private||4,321||Pirates||lacrosse (m)||Big South|
Most former members are currently members of either the Southeastern Conference or the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two of the former full members, Appalachian State and Davidson, maintain SoCon associate membership in wrestling. A third former full member, Georgia Southern, became an associate member in rifle when the SoCon added the sport for the 2016–17 school year.
Full members Full members (except football) Other Conference Other Conference
- Due to space limitations, one portion of Washington and Lee's affiliation history is not indicated in the table. In 1958, W&L stopped awarding athletic scholarships; from then until 1962, it was an independent in what was then the NCAA College Division (which was split in 1973 to form today's Divisions II and III).
The Southern Conference sponsors championship competition in 11 men's, 10 women's, and one coeducational NCAA-sanctioned sports.[better source needed] Five schools are associate members for wrestling. Under a cooperative agreement with the ASUN Conference, the SoCon began sponsoring men's lacrosse in the 2014–15 school year (2015 season) with three full members (Furman, Mercer, VMI) and four associates (Bellarmine, High Point, Jacksonville, Richmond). SoCon men's lacrosse has since added Air Force. Women's lacrosse was sponsored by the ASUN through the 2017 season, after which the SoCon launched its own women's lacrosse league. Beginning in the 2016–17 academic year, after a 30-year hiatus, the SoCon resumed rifle as its 21st sport. Members for conference competition are full members The Citadel, VMI, and Wofford as well as associate members UAB, Georgia Southern, and North Georgia. The SoCon is one of only two all-sports conferences to sponsor rifle, joining the Ohio Valley Conference. Rifle is technically a men's sport for NCAA purposes, but men's, women's, and coed teams all compete against each other. Women's lacrosse was added as the 22nd sport for 2017–18.
|Track and Field (Indoor)|
|Track and Field (Outdoor)|
Men's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
|School||Baseball||Basketball||Cross Country||Football||Golf||Lacrosse||Rifle[a]||Soccer||Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
|Wrestling||Total SoCon Sports|
|East Tennessee State|
- Rifle is technically a men's sport, but men's, women's, and coed teams all compete against each other.
- Men's rifle team; school also fields a women's team.
- Coed rifle team.
- Associates Air Force, Bellarmine, High Point, Jacksonville, and Richmond. After the 2021 season, Air Force and Bellarmine will leave for ASUN men's lacrosse, while Hampton will become a SoCon associate.
- Associates North Georgia and UAB, both with coed teams.
- Associate is Belmont.
- Associates Appalachian State, Bellarmine, Campbell, Davidson, Gardner–Webb, and Presbyterian.
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Southern Conference which are played by SoCon schools:
Women's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
|School||Basketball||Cross Country||Golf||Lacrosse||Rifle[a]||Soccer||Softball||Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
|Volleyball||Total SoCon Teams|
|East Tennessee State|
- Rifle is technically a men's sport, but men's, women's, and coed teams all compete against each other.
- Women's rifle team; school also fields a men's team.
- Coed rifle team.
- Associate member Delaware State.
- Associate members Georgia Southern (women-only team), North Georgia (coed team), and UAB (coed team).
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Southern Conference which are played by SoCon schools:
|School||Beach Volleyball||Swimming &
- Seated capacity; 10,000+ with standing room.
This is a partial list of the last 10 champions. For the full history, see List of Southern Conference football champions.
|2018||East Tennessee State
† Automatic bid to NCAA Division I Football Championship
This is a partial list of the last 10 regular-season and tournament champions. For the full history, see List of Southern Conference men's basketball champions.
The Southern Conference split into a divisional format for basketball beginning with the 1994–95 season.
|Year||Regular Season Champion (North)||Record||Regular Season Champion (South)||Record||Tournament Champion|
|12–6||College of Charleston
However, the divisional format was abandoned beginning with the 2013–14 season.
|Year||Regular Season Champion||Record||Tournament Champion|
|2016–17||East Tennessee State[a]
|14–4||East Tennessee State|
|2017–18||UNC Greensboro||15–3||UNC Greensboro|
- Listed in order of seeding in the conference tournament.
This is a partial list of the last 10 tournament champions. For the full history, see Southern Conference Women's Basketball Tournament
This is a partial list of the last 10 champions. For the full history, see Southern Conference Baseball Tournament.
|Year||Reg. Season Champion||Tournament Champion|
|2010||The Citadel||The Citadel|
College of Charleston
|2014||Western Carolina||Georgia Southern|
|Year||Air Rifle Champion||Smallbore Champion||Overall Champion|
|2017||Georgia Southern||North Georgia||North Georgia|
|2018||North Georgia||North Georgia||North Georgia|
|2021||North Georgia||Georgia Southern||North Georgia|
Commissioner's and Germann CupsEdit
The Commissioner's and Germann Cups are awarded each year to the top men's and women's program in the conference. The Commissioner's Cup was inaugurated in 1970. The Germann Cup, named for former Southern Conference Commissioner Ken Germann, was first awarded in 1987. The completion of the 2013–2014 athletics season saw Appalachian State winning its 33rd Commissioner's Cup and Furman its 13th Germann Cup.
|Year||Commissioner's Cup||Germann Cup|
William & Mary
|1970–71||William & Mary||—|
|1971–72||William & Mary||—|
|1972–73||William & Mary||—|
|1975–76||William & Mary||—|
|1982–83||East Tennessee State||—|
|1986–87||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|1987–88||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|1988–89||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|1989–90||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|1991–92||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|2004–05||Chattanooga||College of Charleston|
|2005–06||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|2006–07||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|2008–09||Appalachian State||College of Charleston|
|2010–11||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|2011–12||Appalachian State||College of Charleston|
|2012–13||Appalachian State||Appalachian State|
|2015–16||East Tennessee State||Furman|
|2016–17||East Tennessee State||Furman|
|2017–18||East Tennessee State||Furman|
|2018–19||East Tennessee State||Furman|
- "The History of the Southern Conference". Southern Conference. 2008-06-30.
- Stewart Mandel (2007-09-01). "The Mother of All Upsets". CNNSI.
- "Curry's sweet touch continues as Davidson eludes Wisconsin". ESPN. Associated Press. 2008-03-28.
- David Jones. "Florida falls to FCS opponent, won't be bowl eligible". Retrieved 2014-03-20.
- "Preseason Projected Field Of 64". BaseballAmerica.com. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
- "Southern Conference Talked By College Men". The Charlotte Observer. February 28, 1921. p. 8. Retrieved August 16, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Southern Conference, With 15 Colleges as Members, Is Formed At Atlanta Meeting". The Charlotte Observer. February 27, 1921. p. 24. Retrieved August 16, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Fuzzy Woodruff (October 16, 1921). "Too Many Practice Games And Too Few Real Battles". News and Observer. p. 15. Retrieved August 16, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Drastic Rules Are Adopted By New Southern Conference To Keep College Sports Clean". The Atlanta Constitution. February 27, 1921. p. 2. Retrieved August 16, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "SoCon Tournament Results". Southern Conference. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
- "SoCon Welcomes ETSU, Mercer and VMI" (Press release). Southern Conference. July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "SoCon, A-Sun Partner to Enhance Lacrosse" (Press release). Southern Conference. January 9, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- "SoCon to Add Women's Lacrosse as 22nd Sport" (Press release). Southern Conference. January 31, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
- "ASUN Conference Announces Formation of Men's Lacrosse League" (Press release). ASUN Conference. February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- "Hampton joining SoCon as associate member for men's lacrosse" (Press release). Southern Conference. February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- "PC Adds Men's and Women's Wrestling; Men to Join Southern Conference" (Press release). Presbyterian Blue Hose. December 7, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Women's Lacrosse Coming in 2020-21; Detroit Mercy & Youngstown State As Affiliates" (Press release). Mid-American Conference. November 6, 2019. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
- "SOUTHERN CONFERENCE TO ADD RIFLE AS 21ST SPORT". Southern Conference. December 9, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
- "Southern Conference". Southern Conference.
- "Southern Conference to add rifle as 21st sport". University of North Georgia. December 9, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- "Southern Conference Commissioner's & Germann Cups". Southern Conference. 2007-06-04.
- Iamarino, John. 2020. A Proud History of Athletic History. Mercer University Press.