History, Identity, Membership

The New England Small College Athletic Conference consists of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities. Its members are committed first and foremost to academic excellence and believe that our athletic programs must always support our educational mission. Presidents of the member institutions exercise control of athletics at both the institutional and conference level to ensure that we remain true to our core values.

The Conference was formed in 1971 and was based upon an agreement among Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College first drafted in 1955. Along with these four institutions, Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College and Tufts University are the sustaining charter members. Connecticut College joined the Conference in 1982.


The primary mission of the Conference is to organize, facilitate, support, and regulate intercollegiate athletic competition among member institutions in a manner consistent with our commitment to academic excellence and our core values.

Core Values

In pursuing our collective purpose, the Conference and its individual members strive to adhere to the following core values: 

  • Athletics should teach and promote life skills including fair play, respect, preparation, teamwork, leadership, and sportsmanship;
  • Student athletes and our athletic programs should be representative of our student bodies as a whole, both at the point of admission and in their academic performance, preferences and educational outcomes;
  • We are committed to diversity and to gender equity, in our athletic programs and throughout our institutions;
  • Athletic programs should be integrated into the broader life and fabric of our campuses. We expect that student athletes will participate in the educational and social opportunities made available to all our students;
  • Our institutions should provide a comprehensive athletic program available to the entire student body, not just varsity athletes, and which emphasizes participation and the educational values of athletics;
  • We are committed to providing equitable and fair competition among members of the conference, and to observing the highest ethical standards in the conduct of Conference business and in the interactions among member institutions;
  • We are committed to providing need-based financial aid for athletes, consistent with the requirements of Division III of the NCAA;

Operating Principles

In the pursuit of our primary mission and in keeping with our core values, the Conference has a number of core operating principles: 

  • In all sports, Conference members give primary emphasis to in-season competition;
  • Intercollegiate athletic policy at each institution reflects the primacy of our academic mission;
  • The Conference and member institutions manage regular season competition and post-season play in a manner that minimizes conflicts with class schedules and examinations;
  • Limits are placed on the number of contests, as well as on the starting and terminal dates for competition, in order to maximize opportunities for students to participate in more than one intercollegiate sport, to be involved in non-athletic activities, and to encourage proper perspective on the role of athletics;
  • Out-of-season activities are limited to conditioning exercises and may not involve coaching staff;
  • The Conference encourages and facilitates information-sharing among members in the interest of equitable competition, representativeness, and adherence to core values.