Hendrix College, along with six other schools in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference plus Berry College in Georgia, have officially withdrawn from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference effective July 1, 2012. They will form a new eight-team NCAA Division II league to begin competition by thee 2012-13 academic year.
In addition to Hendrix and Berry, which is a new member of Division III, the conference will consist of SCAC members Rhodes College, Centre College, Millsaps College, Birmingham Southern, Oglethorpe and Sewanee/University of the South .
The seven current members of the SCAC announced their intention to leave the league during the annual spring meeting of the league's board of directors at Suwamee, Ga.
"Hendrix is honored by the invitation to join our historic rivals and academic peers in an exciting new era of intercollegiate competition," sand Hendrix President J. Timothy Cloyd in a news release. "The new conference will more closely resemble the makeup of our academic consortium, the American Colleges of the South, futher ensuring our the continuity of our mission in our academic and athletic programs."
As part of the agreement, Hendrix has agreed to officially re-institute football, something its board of trustees has already approved contingent on sufficient startup costs being raised from external sources, by the 2013 season. Football was discontinued at Hendrix after the 1960 season. The school will also add women’s lacrosse at that time.
A conference must have at least seven football-playing schools to gain an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Oglethorpe does not offer football.
The main reasons for the creation of the new conference are to reduce travel expenses (particularly air travel), limit possible missed class time and eliminate division play in all sports. The league will still have institutions in six states, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky.
The CAC, which Hendrix has been a member since it joined Division III in 1991 from the late Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference of NCAA Division III, will have five institutions remaining after the seven leave: Trinity University (San Antonio), Southwestern (Georgetown, Texas), Austin College (Sherman, Texas), the University of Dallas (which will join the league this season) and Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colo.). DePauw University of Greencastle, Ind., left the SCAC after this athletic season for similar reasons as those exiting now — to join a league in which it is more geographically aligned. The remaining members say t hey have already been approached by potential new members for the SCAC with the goal of creating an eight- to 10-member conference.
For most of the last few years, the league has stretched thousands of miles from Oglethorpe (Atlanta) to DePauw to Trinity to Colorado College.
We're going from a three time-zone league to a two time-zone league,” said Danny Powell, Hendrix’s director of athletics. “Some of us have talked about it for some time and several of the presidents got together and said they were going to do something about it. The new league will have all the teams in contiguous states, all within about a 500-mile radius, which means all trips can be charter bus trips. It should keep missed class time to a minimum."