|South Atlantic Conference|
|Members||13 (14 in 2022)|
|Region||Southeastern United States|
|Headquarters||Rock Hill, South Carolina|
|Commissioner||Patrick Britz (since 2008)|
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.
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).
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 (now Lenoir-Rhyne University), 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 (now Tusculum University) 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 (now Coker University) and Queens University of Charlotte joined the conference. On April 13, 2018, UVA Wise (in full, the University of Virginia's College at Wise) announced that it was joining the South Atlantic Conference for the 2019-20 season. A more 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 became Limestone University.
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. The SAC–CC alliance is officially branded as "South Atlantic Conference Carolinas".
The most recent change in conference membership was announced on November 17, 2020. Emory & Henry College, currently in the Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference, will start a transition to Division II in July 2021 and start SAC competition in 2022.
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.
- Limestone had been an affiliate member in football from 2017 to 2020 and field hockey from 2018 to 2020 (with the final season of competition as an affiliate in both sports taking place in calendar 2019).
|Belmont Abbey College||Belmont, North Carolina||1876||Private (Catholic)||1,320||Crusaders||2018||field hockey||Carolinas|
|Converse University[a]||Spartanburg, South Carolina||1889||Private (Nonsectarian)||750||Valkyries||2018||field hockey||Carolinas|
|Barton College||Wilson, North Carolina||1902||Private (Christian Church)||1,200||Bulldogs||2022||football||Carolinas|
|Erskine College||Due West, South Carolina||1839||Private (Presbyterian)||800||Flying Fleet||2022||football||Carolinas|
- Converse College before July 2021.
|Brevard College||Brevard, North Carolina||1934||Private (United Methodist)||Tornados||2008||2017||USA South|
|Elon University||Elon, North Carolina||1889||Private (Nonsectarian)||Phoenix||1975||1997||Colonial Athletic|
|Gardner–Webb University||Boiling Springs, North Carolina||1905||Private (Baptist)||Runnin' Bulldogs||1975||2000||Big South|
|Presbyterian College||Clinton, South Carolina||1880||Private (Presbyterian Church)||Blue Hose||1975||2007||Big South|
Full member (all sports) Full member (non-football) Associate member (football-only) Associate member (sport)
|Track & Field Indoor|
|Track & Field Outdoor|
Men's sponsored sports by school
- Anderson plans to add football no later than 2024.
Women's sponsored sports by school
- Lincoln Memorial will add field hockey in 2021–22.
Other sponsored sports by school
|Volleyball [b]||Wrestling||Acrobatics &
|Emory & Henry||TBA||CC[h]||IND||TBA||IND|
- Bowling is sponsored by the NCAA for women only. Men's college competition is sanctioned solely by the sport's US governing body, the American Bowling Congress, which sanctions women's competition alongside the NCAA.
- 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.
- Acrobatics & tumbling, considered by the NCAA to be a single sport separate from the NCAA-sanctioned sport of gymnastics, is currently part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. It does not yet have an NCAA championship event; college competition is governed by the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association.
- Equestrianism is currently part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. It does not yet have an NCAA championship event; college competition is sponsored by the National Collegiate Equestrian Association.
- Triathlon is currently part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. It does not yet have an NCAA championship event; college competition is sponsored by the sport's national governing body of USA Triathlon.
- Wrestling is currently part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. It does not yet have an NCAA championship event; college competition is governed by the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association.
- De facto Conference Carolinas affiliate as part of South Atlantic Conference Carolinas.
- Emory & Henry will become a de facto Conference Carolinas affiliate as part of South Atlantic Conference Carolinas.
- Limestone's future men's volleyball affiliation has not yet been determined.
- Lincoln Memorial will add men's and women's wrestling in 2021–22. Men's wrestling will compete as a de facto Conference Carolinas affiliate as part of South Atlantic Conference Carolinas.
In addition to the above:
- Anderson and Tusculum treat their male and female cheerleaders as varsity athletes.
- Carson–Newman and Limestone treat their female cheerleaders (though not their male cheerleaders) and all-female dance teams as varsity athletes.
- Catawba treats its male and female cheerleaders and all-female dance team as varsity athletes. The school also sponsors a coeducational varsity eSports team.
- Coker has a coeducational varsity eSports team.
- Future SAC member Emory & Henry treats its male and female cheerleaders and all-female dance team as varsity athletes. The school's equestrian program is coeducational, although only women participate in NCAA-recognized events.
- Lenoir–Rhyne treats its male and female cheerleaders and all-female dance team as varsity athletes.
- Mars Hill sponsors a varsity cycling team, with separate men's and women's squads.
- Queens treats its male and female cheerleaders and all-female dance team as varsity athletes. The school also sponsors men's triathlon, which has no NCAA recognition of any kind, as a varsity sport.
Conference stadia and arenas
|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|
|Emory & Henry Wasps||Fred Selfe Stadium||5,500||John R. King Center||1,240|
|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||
|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|
|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|
- "History of the SAC". South Atlantic Conference. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- "UVa-Wise to Join South Atlantic Conference in 2019-20". UVaWiseCavs.com. April 13, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
- "Limestone College to Join South Atlantic Conference in 2020-21" (Press release). South Atlantic Conference. April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
- "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.
- "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.
- "Converse Announces Inaugural Men's NCAA Division II Athletic Teams for 2021-2022" (Press release). Converse College. April 8, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
- "Anderson University Moving Forward with Plan to Launch Trojan Football Program" (Press release). Anderson Trojans. October 4, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2020.