|Region||North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia|
|Former names||North State Conference (1930–1961)|
Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (1961–1995)
Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference (1995–2007)
|Headquarters||Greenville, South Carolina|
Conference Carolinas, formerly known as the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference (CVAC) or the Carolinas Conference, is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) primarily in Division II, and as one of the five Division I conferences for men's volleyball. Originally formed in 1930, the league reached its modern incarnation in 1994. Member institutions are located in the southeastern United States in the states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Conference Carolinas membership currently consists of 13 small colleges or universities, 11 private and two public.
Conference Carolinas dates to its inception on December 6, 1930. The conference was formed then as an athletic association "for the greater advantage of the small colleges in North Carolina". The official name given back then was the North State Intercollegiate Conference but known informally as the Old North State Conference. The birthplace was the Washington Duke Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, and the seven charter members were Appalachian, Atlantic Christian (now Barton College), Catawba, Guilford, Elon, High Point, and Lenoir–Rhyne.
The conference followed a policy of expansion for a period of time. Western Carolina became a member in 1933, East Carolina in 1947, Pfeiffer in 1960, Newberry in 1961, and Presbyterian in 1964, followed closely by Mars Hill.
With the acceptance of the first member from South Carolina in Newberry College, a name change became necessary. Thus on May 20, 1961 the official name of the conference was changed to the Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAC) but commonly known less formerly as the Carolinas Conference.
East Carolina resigned in 1962 to join the Southern Conference and Appalachian and Western Carolina followed. Football sponsorship in the Carolinas Conference was dropped in 1973 when Lenoir–Rhyne, Newberry, Presbyterian, and Mars Hill joined the South Atlantic Conference.
Pembroke State University, now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, became a first-time member in 1976 followed by Wingate College in 1979, and Lenoir–Rhyne rejoined in 1984.
While Guilford College withdrew in 1988, St. Andrews and Mount Olive were added that same year.
The 1989–90 academic year started a new era as Catawba, Elon, Lenoir–Rhyne and Wingate all withdrew to compete in the first year that the South Atlantic Conference provided championships in all sports, not just football.
The Carolinas Conference then added Belmont Abbey in 1989, Coker College (now Coker University) in 1991, and Lees-McRae in 1993. Pembroke State left in 1992.
The 1993–94 academic year brought a change to the conference national affiliation. The conference began the process of transferring membership to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) after years as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member. During the transition, it was a dual member of the NCAA's Division II and the NAIA's Division I.
The 1995–96 year brought dramatic change to the conference. First, full membership into NCAA Division II was acquired and NAIA affiliation dropped. Thus, this was the first official year of full competition and championship play for the conference in NCAA DII status. Secondly, this was also the same year that Erskine, Longwood, & Queens were accepted as full members of the conference. With Longwood becoming the first Virginia member, another name change occurred and the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference (known more universally as the 'CVAC') was born.
Following the 1997 academic year High Point resigned to join the NCAA DI ranks while in 1998 Limestone soon joined and were quickly followed by Anderson in 1999.
In 2003, Longwood University left the conference to explore possibilities in NCAA Division I. Then in 2005 the CVAC added Converse College (becoming Converse University in July 2021) as an affiliate member before becoming a full member starting in the 2007–08 season.
With the lone Virginia school in Longwood leaving, the league decided to go back to its roots and change its name to Conference Carolinas June 1, 2007.
On June 1, 2011, King College and North Greenville University became official members of the conference and opened the conference to its first Tennessee member in King.
In 2013–14, Emmanuel College (Georgia) and Southern Wesleyan University became official members of the conference and opened the conference to its first Georgia member in Emmanuel. Southern Wesleyan began official full NCAA DII membership in 2016–17 while Emmanuel started in 2018–19.
After 57 years as a league member Pfeiffer University moved down to the NCAA DIII ranks on June 1, 2017.
Conference Carolinas and the South Atlantic Conference 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 CC would coordinate the wrestling championship, while the SAC would fill the same role for field hockey. Accordingly, all CC field hockey programs became de facto affiliates of the SAC, while SAC wrestling programs became de facto CC affiliates. The CC–SAC alliance is officially branded as "South Atlantic Conference Carolinas".
After the completion of the 2018–19 athletic year, former Commissioner Alan Patterson retired and was replaced by Chris Colvin. One of the first moves made by Colvin was to move the league headquarters to Greenville, South Carolina to be more centrally located to all member institutions.
The league now has 13 members, with the most recent changes taking place in 2021. Francis Marion University joined for the first time, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke returned after an absence of nearly 30 years. They were the first public schools to join CC since Longwood's 2003 departure. The most recent departure from CC was that of Limestone College (now Limestone University), which moved to the SAC in 2020.
Many institutions have been members of the league during its rich history including Anderson, Appalachian, Barton (formerly Atlantic Christian), Belmont Abbey, Catawba, Coker, Converse, East Carolina, Erskine, Emmanuel, Francis Marion, Guilford, Elon, High Point, King, Lees-McRae, Lenoir–Rhyne, Limestone, Longwood, Mars Hill, Mount Olive, Newberry, North Greenville, Pfeiffer, Presbyterian, Queens, St. Andrews, UNC Pembroke (both as Pembroke State and under its current name), Western Carolina and Wingate.
Barton is the only remaining charter member followed in longevity by Mount Olive's joining in 1988.
For the 2020–21 school year, CC added acrobatics & tumbling, newly added to the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program in that same school year, as its newest sport. Initially, five full members and one associate were to start competition, but two more associates were added before competition began.
The arrival of Francis Marion and return of UNC Pembroke were not the only changes to the conference membership in 2021. Converse admitted men to its residential undergraduate program for the first time, and also added men's sports, initially fielding seven teams. Also in 2021–22, current SAC member Lincoln Memorial University added men's wrestling, Emory & Henry College, which sponsors that sport, started a transition from Division III to Division II, joining the SAC (although it currently does not plan to start full SAC competition until 2022–23); and Mars Hill University became an associate member in acrobatics & tumbling. Emory & Henry and Lincoln Memorial became de facto CC affiliates as part of South Atlantic Conference Carolinas.
- Converse, traditionally a women's college, did not field men's sports until 2021–22, when it opened its residential undergraduate program to men for the first time. Converse is initially fielding seven men's teams.
- UNC Pembroke had been a conference member from 1976 to 1992 under its previous name of Pembroke State University.
Future affiliates highlighted in green.
- Starts Division II transition in 2021, but currently planning to start South Atlantic Conference competition in 2022.
School names and nicknames reflect those in use during the final year each institution was a member.
- Appalachian State, East Carolina, and Western Carolina did not become part of the University of North Carolina system until 1972, after all had left the conference.
- Known since 2019 as Coker University.
- Known since 1967 as East Carolina University.
- Known since 2001 as Elon University. The "Elon College" name is now applied to the university's college of arts and sciences.
- Known since 2008 as Lenoir–Rhyne University.
- Known since 2020 as Limestone University.
- Known since 2013 as Mars Hill University.
- Known since 1995 as Wingate University.
Full member (all sports) Full member (non-football) Associate member (football-only) Associate member (sport)
When Barton became the sixth member to sponsor men's volleyball in 2011–12, Conference Carolinas became the fourth official scholarship-granting conference in NCAA men's volleyball. It also became the first all-sports conference (i.e., one that sponsors men's and women's basketball) ever to sponsor men's volleyball as a scholarship sport, and is also the first men's volleyball conference to consist solely of Division II members. No D-I all-sports conference sponsored the sport until the Big West Conference launched a men's volleyball league in the 2018 season (2017–18 school year).
Conference Carolinas sponsors intercollegiate athletic competition in the following sports:
|Acrobatics & tumbling|
|Swimming & Diving|
|Track & Field Indoor|
|Track & Field Outdoor|
In field hockey and wrestling, Conference Carolinas and the South Atlantic Conference operate as a single league known as South Atlantic Conference Carolinas, holding joint conference tournaments in each sport. As noted previously, CC operates only the wrestling championship.
Men's sponsored sports by school
|Future affiliate members|
|Emory & Henry||1|
- De facto Division I sport. The NCAA operates a combined Division I/II championship in men's volleyball, and scholarship limits in that sport are the same for members of both divisions.
- Current member adding men's sports in 2021.
Women's sponsored sports by school
|Future affiliate members|
Other sponsored sports by school
Future members Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke in gray.
- De facto Division I sport. The NCAA operates single championship events in beach volleyball and bowling that are open to members of all three divisions. Schools in Divisions I and II operate under the same scholarship limits in both sports.
- Part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program.
- De facto South Atlantic Conference affiliate as part of South Atlantic Conference Carolinas.
- Francis Marion men's golf currently plays as a Division I independent.
In addition to the above:
- Belmont Abbey fields varsity teams in the non-NCAA sports of cycling (coeducational with men's and women's squads), men's bowling, and men's triathlon. It also considers its band, cheerleaders (male and female), and dance team (all-female) to be varsity athletes.
- Chowan fields a coeducational esports team, and also considers its cheerleaders (male and female) to be varsity athletes.
- Converse fields a coeducational esports team, and its equestrian program is also coeducational, although only women compete in NCAA-recognized events.
- Emmanuel fields teams in four non-NCAA sports. Three teams are coeducational: archery (with men's and women's squads), bass fishing, and clay target shooting. The fourth is in men's bowling. It also considers its cheerleaders (male and female) to be varsity athletes.
- Erskine fields a coeducational esports team, plus coeducational teams in the non-NCAA sports of bass fishing and rodeo (with men-only and women-only disciplines).
- King fields a coeducational esports team, plus coeducational teams in the non-NCAA sports of cycling (men's and women's squads) and bass fishing. It also considers its cheerleaders (male and female) and dance team (all-female, though listed on its athletics website as coeducational) to be varsity athletes.
- Lees–McRae fields a varsity team in the non-NCAA sport of cycling (coeducational with men's and women's squads). It also considers its cheerleaders (male and female) to be varsity athletes. Unlike other CC members that field esports teams, Lees–McRae treats its esports program as a club sport.
- NCAA Men's National Collegiate Volleyball Championship, in which the CC champion receives an automatic berth
- "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.
- "Lincoln Memorial University to Add Field Hockey and Men's and Women's Wrestling" (Press release). Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters. September 24, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
- "Conference Carolinas Announces Addition of Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke" (Press release). Conference Carolinas. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
- "Limestone College to Join South Atlantic Conference in 2020-21" (Press release). South Atlantic Conference. April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
- "Conference Carolinas to Sponsor Acrobatics and Tumbling in 2020-21 Athletic Year; Coker Joins as Affiliate Member in NCAA Emerging Sport" (Press release). Conference Carolinas. January 25, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
- "Conference Carolinas Welcomes Lander and Limestone as Associate Members in Acrobatics and Tumbling" (Press release). Conference Carolinas. January 25, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
- "Converse Announces Inaugural Men's NCAA Division II Athletic Teams for 2021-2022" (Press release). Converse College. April 8, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
- "Emory & Henry College to Join South Atlantic Conference; Will Begin Competition in 2022-23" (Press release). South Atlantic Conference. November 17, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
- "Conference Carolinas Announces Addition of Mars Hill as Associate Member in Acrobatics & Tumbling" (Press release). Conference Carolinas. June 3, 2021. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
- Lopes, Vinnie (April 4, 2014). "The Little Conference That Could". Volleyball Magazine. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.