Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Founded1892; 132 years ago (1892)
Ceased1942; 82 years ago (1942)
No. of teams72 (total)
RegionSouthern United States
Deep South
Location of teams in (({title))}

The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) was one of the first collegiate athletic conferences in the United States. Twenty-seven of the current Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A) football programs were members of this conference at some point, as were at least 19 other schools. Every member of the current Southeastern Conference except Arkansas and Missouri, as well as six of the 15 current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference plus future SEC member University of Texas at Austin, currently of the Big 12 Conference (and previously of the now defunct Southwest Conference), formerly held membership in the SIAA.


The first attempt (1892–1893)

Conference Presidents
J. B. Robertson 1892–1893
William Lofland Dudley 1894–1912
Walter Riggs 1912–1915
Buz M. Walker 1917
Henry D. Phillips 1919–1922
J. W. Provine 1927–1942

During the week of Thanksgiving, 1892, southern football promoters organized a series of football games at Brisbane Park in Atlanta, Georgia, in an effort to crown a "Southern champion", calling it the "first championship series of football games ever held in the south".[1] The idea soon grew into a plan to hold a yearly football championship around Thanksgiving determined by games played between the champions of five southern states. The organization overseeing the championship would be called the Southern Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association, which was originally planned to be formalized during the first football championship series taking place the week of November 21, 1892. It was envisioned to include two members from each of the five states: Alabama and Auburn from Alabama, Georgia and Georgia Tech from Georgia, North Carolina and Trinity (Duke) from North Carolina, Sewanee and Vanderbilt from Tennessee, and Virginia and Washington and Lee from Virginia. Charles Baskerville (North Carolina), Dr. George Petrie (Virginia), and Frank Spain (Georgia Tech) were the prominent promoters of the plan.[2] However, the formation of the SIAA did not materialize during the championship series in Atlanta.

On December 28, 1892, members of the Virginia's athletic association organized a meeting of southern college athletic programs at Richmond's Exchange Hotel, with the purpose of organizing southern collegiate athletics, especially regular athletic championships in baseball, football, tennis, and track.[3] Colleges present at the meeting were Alabama, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina, Saint John's (of Maryland), Sewanee, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Presiding over the first meeting was Dr. F. P. Venable, of North Carolina, and secretary was J. B. Robertson, of Virginia; Robertson was later elected as president, with W. S. Symington, of Johns Hopkins, elected as vice president, and W. H. Graham, of Sewanee, elected as secretary and treasurer.[4]

The league was split into two "circuits", with the "Northern" one comprising Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and the "Southern" one comprising Tennessee and Alabama; the champion of each circuit would play each other for the championship of the SIAA each year, with yearly championship matches scheduled for Thanksgiving for football and May 13 for baseball. Interestingly, whichever team won the championship in baseball had the privilege of naming the next session's president, while the winner of each year's football championship was to name the next vice president.[4]

The original division of the teams had Virginia, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Johns Hopkins, and St. John's College in the Northern Division, and Tennessee, Sewanee, and Alabama in the Southern Division. In mid-February, a special session was held to add Vanderbilt to the Southern Division, resulting in a 5-team Northern Division and a 4-team Southern Division.[5]

The league also took on the usual matters of interest in terms of purifying and organizing athletics at the time, including banning former professional players. The overall goal was generally to "encourage and stimulate athletics among colleges of the South."[6]

After just one season of baseball, the Association was embroiled by controversy. Virginia had a straightforward claim to champion of the Northern Division; though Virginia and Johns Hopkins had been scheduled to meet in a game for champion of the Northern Division, Johns Hopkins forfeited the game after faculty forbade the team from leaving campus on May 3, the day the final division game had been scheduled for.[7] The champion of the Southern Division was not so easily decided. On May 11, 1893, after a full season of SIAA baseball play, an arbitration committee set out to determine whether Vanderbilt, Alabama, or Sewanee had topped the Southern Division, as the teams had a split record with no clear winner. This was made more difficult due to an eligibility controversy between Vanderbilt and Alabama, with Vanderbilt claiming that two Alabama baseball players were ineligible due to professionalism rules. Owing to this, Vanderbilt claimed Alabama should forfeit two wins to Vanderbilt, despite losing one of the games 2–1.[8]

Eventually, the arbitrators decided in favor of Vanderbilt, leaving a contest between Vanderbilt and Sewanee to determine champion of the Southern Division.[9] Despite this, there was some discontent within the organization; Secretary Wilders, of Sewanee, opined at length about the decision, describing his distaste about the "secret" nature of the arbitrators. He closed his column by noting that Vanderbilt and Sewanee need not face off in a championship game, as Sewanee had a better record against member teams (2–1 as opposed to 2–2).[10] William Dudley, representative of Vanderbilt, fired back a long retort of his own, accusing Wilders of not understanding the rules of the SIAA's constitution.[11] The game to determine champion of the Southern Division was never played.

A month later sounded the beginning of the end for the first SIAA, when Vanderbilt withdrew from the Association, preceded by Tennessee.[12] Another month later, the SIAA formally folded. Football analysts of the time wrote that the failure was because the association was composed of colleges scattered too far apart. Though the hopes were high that Virginia, North Carolina, and Johns Hopkins would form a new association in September, this appears to have never come to fruition.[13]

The SIAA (1894–1942)

The SIAA was founded on December 21, 1894, by Dr. William Dudley, a chemistry professor at Vanderbilt,[14] at the Kimball House in Atlanta.[15] Dudley was a member of the Vanderbilt Athletic Association, formed in 1886 with Dr. W. M. Baskerville as president. Most students at Vanderbilt were members. The early sports played on the Vanderbilt campus were baseball, bicycling, and track and field events.[16] Dudley was primarily responsible for the formation of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The first advance in the direction of its formation was in March 1888 when the Vanderbilt Athletic Association endeavored to secure track and field meets at Vanderbilt from Southwestern Presbyterian University, Sewanee, and Tennessee. Sewanee's opposition stopped it from occurring.[17]

The original members were Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina, Sewanee, Vanderbilt, and Virginia.[18][19] Virginia and North Carolina soon dropped out, even before the inaugural 1895 season.[20][21]

Central (Eastern Kentucky), Clemson, Cumberland, Kentucky, LSU, Mercer, Mississippi A&M (Mississippi State), Southwestern Presbyterian University, Texas, Tulane, and the University of Nashville joined the following year in 1895 as invited charter members.[22][23] The conference was originally formed for "the development and purification of college athletics throughout the South".[24] They crafted a constitution, created an executive committee, elected officers, and set rules for:[24]

Kimball House

The league did not, however, sponsor much in the way of championship competition for its member schools. It did hold an annual track and field competition for a trophy, and it also held some basketball tournaments over the years, but apparently some member schools did not compete in the tournament during some years, and sometimes non-member southern schools were even allowed to compete in it as well. In 1903, a single-game football playoff occurred, but it seems to have been coordinated more so by the two competing schools (Clemson and Cumberland) than the conference itself. Several other efforts over the years by individual schools (rather than by the SIAA) to hold a conference title game fell through. Most SIAA titles claimed by schools in various sports were actually more mythical in nature than officially sanctioned by the league. Indeed, some schools centrally-located in the conference played far more conference games than others on the periphery, making it difficult to form a fair comparison to determine just which team was truly the best, especially once the league began to constantly expand its membership.

In 1915, a disagreement arose within the conference regarding the eligibility of freshman athletes, the so-called "one-year rule." Generally, the larger universities opposed the eligibility of freshman players, while the smaller schools favored it. As a result, some of the large universities formed the Southern Intercollegiate Conference (now the Southern Conference), which used the one-year rule, while still maintaining membership within the SIAA.[25]

At the conference's annual meeting on December 10, 1920, the SIAA rejected proposals to ban freshman athletes and abolish paid summer baseball.[26] In protest, some schools that had voted in favor of the propositions immediately announced they would seek to form a new conference.[26] On February 25, 1921, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Tennessee left the SIAA to form the Southern Conference, along with non-SIAA members Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Washington and Lee.[27] In 1922, the Southern Conference underwent an expansion and added six more members, all at the expense of the SIAA: Florida, Louisiana State, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tulane, and Vanderbilt.[25]

With the departure of most of the major colleges, the SIAA became a de facto small college conference in 1923. In the 1920s and 1930s, the SIAA increased its membership with the addition of many additional small universities. The conference eventually disbanded in 1942 with the onset of American involvement in World War II.[25] League archives were kept at Vanderbilt, the league's founding school, but the building housing the archives was eventually gutted with fire, taking countless irreplaceable items pertaining to the SIAA's history with it.

In 1947 there was an attempt, led by Western Kentucky, to revive the SIAA. Western Kentucky hosted an SIAA basketball tournament that turned out to be little more than an invitational tournament because former SIAA members declined to participate.[28]


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Original charter members from the 1894 SIAA are denoted in boldface; this list is the same as the members from the 1892–1893 SIAA with the replacement of Wake Forest, Tennessee, and St. John's from the 1892 league with Auburn and Georgia. Invited charter members are denoted with an asterisk.[22] In the era in which the SIAA operated, teams tended to join in December; therefore, the first year of conference play in a given sport was often the following calendar year.[29]

Conference affiliations reflect those for the 2016–17 school year.

School City State Tenure Conference left for Current conference
Alabama Tuscaloosa Alabama 1892–1893, 1895–1917, 1919–1921[18][27] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Auburn Auburn Alabama 1895–1921[18][27] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Centenary Shreveport Louisiana 1925–1941 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (D-III)
Central University Richmond Kentucky 1896–1897, 1899–1900 merged with Centre College in 1901
Centre Danville Kentucky 1910–1917, 1919–1941[citation needed] Southern Athletic Association (D-III)
Chattanooga Chattanooga Tennessee 1914–1916, 1919–1932[citation needed] Dixie Conference Southern Conference
The Citadel Charleston South Carolina 1908–1935[30] Southern Conference Southern Conference
Clemson Clemson South Carolina 1896–1921[22][27] Southern Conference Atlantic Coast Conference
Cumberland* Lebanon Tennessee 1896–1907[22] Mid-South Conference (NAIA)
Delta State Cleveland Mississippi 1936–1941[citation needed] Gulf South Conference (D-II)
Emory & Henry Emory Virginia 1936–1941[citation needed] Old Dominion Athletic Conference (D-III)
Erskine Due West South Carolina 1925–1941[31] Conference Carolinas (D-II)
Florida Gainesville Florida 1912–1917, 1919–1921 Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Furman Greenville South Carolina 1902–1904, 1906–1910, 1914–1929, 1932–1935[citation needed] Southern Conference Southern Conference
Georgetown (Kentucky) Georgetown Kentucky 1915–1916, 1919–1941[citation needed] Mid-South Conference (NAIA)
Georgia Athens Georgia 1895–1916, 1919–1921[18][27] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Georgia Tech Atlanta Georgia 1897–1900,[32][33] 1902–1913, 1916–1921[27] Southern Conference Atlantic Coast Conference
Howard College (Samford) Homewood Alabama 1909–1912, 1914–1917, 1919–1931[citation needed] Dixie Conference Southern Conference
Jacksonville State Jacksonville Alabama 1939–1940[citation needed] Conference USA
Johns Hopkins Maryland 1892–1893, Part of 1894[18] Centennial Conference (D-III)
Kentucky* Lexington Kentucky 1896[22]–1904, 1911–1916, 1919–1921[27] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Kentucky Wesleyan Owensboro Kentucky 1925–1930[citation needed] Great Midwest Athletic Conference (D-II)
Louisiana College Pineville Louisiana 1922–1941[citation needed] American Southwest Conference (D-III)
Louisiana State* Baton Rouge Louisiana 1896–1917, 1919–1921[22] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Louisiana Tech Ruston Louisiana 1925–1942[citation needed] Louisiana Intercollegiate Conference Conference USA
Louisville Louisville Kentucky 1914–1941[citation needed] Atlantic Coast Conference
Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans Louisiana 1925, 1930–1937[citation needed] Southern States Athletic Conference (NAIA)
Memphis State (Memphis) Memphis Tennessee 1935–1942[citation needed] Independent American Athletic Conference
Mercer* Macon Georgia 1896–1937[22] Southern Conference
Miami (Florida) Coral Gables Florida 1929–1942[citation needed] Independent Atlantic Coast Conference
Middle Tennessee Murfreesboro Tennessee 1931–1942[citation needed] Conference USA
Millsaps Jackson Mississippi 1908–1909, 1913–1938[citation needed] Southern Athletic Association (D-III)
Mississippi Oxford Mississippi 1898–1921 Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Mississippi College Clinton Mississippi 1910–1917, 1919–1941[citation needed] Gulf South Conference (D-II)
Mississippi A&M* (Mississippi State) Starkville Mississippi 1896–1921[22][27] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Morehead State Morehead Kentucky 1934–1942[citation needed] Ohio Valley Conference
Murray State Murray Kentucky 1931–1942[citation needed] Ohio Valley Conference
Nashville* Nashville Tennessee 1896–1900,[33] 1902–1908[22] University closed in 1909
Newberry Newberry South Carolina 1922–1942[citation needed] South Atlantic Conference (D-II)
North Carolina Chapel Hill North Carolina 1892–1893, Part of 1894,[18] 1899–1902[33] South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association Atlantic Coast Conference
Northwestern State Natchitoches Louisiana 1928–1941[citation needed] Southland Conference
Oglethorpe Atlanta Georgia 1919–1929,[34][35] 1937–1941[36] Southern Athletic Association (D-III)
Presbyterian Clinton South Carolina 1921–1942[citation needed] Big South Conference
Rollins Winter Park Florida 1925–1942[citation needed] Sunshine State Conference (D-II)
St. John's (of Maryland) Annapolis Maryland 1892–1893
University of the South (Sewanee) Sewanee Tennessee 1892–1893, 1895–1900, 1902–1924[18][33] Southern Conference Southern Athletic Association (D-III)
South Carolina Columbia South Carolina 1915–1921 Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Southern (Florida) Lakeland Florida 1925–1930[citation needed] Sunshine State Conference (D-II)
Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg Mississippi 1928–1941[citation needed] Conference USA
Southern University (Birmingham-Southern) Birmingham Alabama 1901–1912; 1930–1931[citation needed] Dixie Conference Southern Athletic Association (D-III)
Southwestern Presbyterian* (Rhodes) Memphis Tennessee 1896[22]–1900, 1902–1903[citation needed] Southern Athletic Association (D-III)
Southwestern Louisiana (Louisiana–Lafayette) Lafayette Louisiana 1925–1942[citation needed] Sun Belt Conference
Spring Hill Mobile Alabama 1927–1931[citation needed] Dixie Conference Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (D-II)
Stetson DeLand Florida 1925–1931, 1933–1940[citation needed] ASUN Conference (Pioneer Football League for football)
Tampa Tampa Florida 1936–1942 Sunshine State Conference (D-II)
Tennessee Knoxville Tennessee 1892–1893, 1897–1916, 1919–1921[27] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Tennessee Tech Cookeville Tennessee 1933–1942[citation needed] Ohio Valley Conference
Texas* Austin Texas 1896–1903[37] Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Big 12 Conference
Texas A&M College Station Texas 1903–1908, 1912–1914[38] Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Southeastern Conference
Transylvania Lexington Kentucky 1914–1916, 1919–1924, 1926–1941[citation needed] Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (D-III)
Trinity College (Duke) Durham North Carolina 1903[39]–1912[citation needed] Atlantic Coast Conference
Troy State (Troy) Troy Alabama 1936–1942[citation needed] no team (WWII) Sun Belt Conference
Tulane* New Orleans Louisiana 1896[22]–1906, 1911–1917, 1919–1921 Southern Conference American Athletic Conference
Union (Kentucky) Barbourville Kentucky 1933–1941 Appalachian Athletic Conference (NAIA)
Union (Tennessee) Jackson Tennessee 1925–1942 Gulf South Conference (NCAA D-II)
Vanderbilt Nashville Tennessee 1892–1893, 1895–1924[18] Southern Conference Southeastern Conference
Virginia Charlottesville Virginia 1892–1893, Part of 1894[18] Atlantic Coast Conference
Wake Forest Winston-Salem North Carolina 1892–1893 Atlantic Coast Conference
Western Kentucky Bowling Green Kentucky 1926–1942 Conference USA
Wofford Spartanburg South Carolina 1903–1942[39] Southern Conference



Jacksonville State UniversityTroy UniversityUniversity of TampaEmory and Henry CollegeDelta State UniversityUniversity of MemphisMorehead State UniversityUnion College (Kentucky)Tennessee Technological UniversityMurray State UniversityMiddle Tennessee State UniversityUniversity of MiamiUniversity of Southern MississippiNorthwestern State UniversitySpring Hill CollegeWestern Kentucky UniversityUnion UniversityStetson UniversityUniversity of Louisiana at LafayetteFlorida Southern CollegeRollins CollegeLoyola University New OrleansLouisiana Tech UniversityKentucky Wesleyan CollegeCentenary College of LouisianaErskine CollegeLouisiana CollegePresbyterian CollegeNewberry CollegeBirmingham-Southern CollegeMillsaps CollegeOglethorpe UniversityWofford CollegeUniversity of South CarolinaTransylvania UniversityGeorgetown College (Kentucky)University of LouisvilleUniversity of Tennessee at ChattanoogaUniversity of FloridaCentre CollegeMississippi CollegeSamford UniversityThe Citadel, The Military College of South CarolinaDuke UniversityTAMUBirmingham–Southern CollegeFurman UniversityUniversity of MississippiGeorgia Institute of TechnologyEastern Kentucky UniversityTulane UniversityUniversity of Texas at AustinRhodes CollegeUniversity of NashvilleMississippi State UniversityMercer UniversityLouisiana State UniversityUniversity of KentuckyCumberland UniversityClemson UniversityUniversity of GeorgiaAuburn UniversityWake Forest Demon DeaconsUniversity of VirginiaVanderbilt UniversityUniversity of TennesseeSewanee: The University of the SouthSt. John's College (Annapolis/Santa Fe)University of North Carolina at Chapel HillJohns Hopkins UniversityUniversity of Alabama

Conference champions


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