New England Small College Athletic Conference

New England Small College Athletic Conference
New England Small College Athletic Conference
New England Small College Athletic Conference logo
Established 1971
Association NCAA
Division Division III
Members 11
Sports fielded 26 (men's: 13; women's: 13)
Region New England
Headquarters Hadley, Massachusetts
Commissioner Andrea Savage (since 1999)
New England Small College Athletic Conference locations

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is an NCAA Division III athletic conference, consisting of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities located in New England and New York. Often referred to as the "Little Ivies", most of the schools have competed against one another since the 19th century.

The idea for such an athletic conference originated with an agreement among Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University and Williams College drafted in 1955.[1] In 1971 Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Union College joined on and NESCAC was officially formed. Today's sustaining members include all the original members but Union, which withdrew in 1977 and was replaced by Connecticut College in 1982.



NESCAC schools share a similar philosophy for intercollegiate athletics. The Conference was created out of a concern for the direction of intercollegiate athletic programs and remains committed to keeping a proper perspective on the role of sport in higher education. Member institutions believe athletic teams should be representative of school's entire student bodies and hew to NCAA Division III admissions and financial policies prohibiting athletic scholarships while awarding financial aid solely on the basis of need.[1] Due to the prestigious reputations of its member schools, the NESCAC is able to attract many of the most athletically and intellectually gifted student-athletes in the country.

NESCAC members stress that intercollegiate athletic programs should operate in harmony with the educational mission of each institution. Schools are committed to maintaining common boundaries to keep athletics strong yet in proportion to their overall academic mission. Presidents of each NESCAC institution control intercollegiate athletic policy.

Conference tenets are usually more restrictive than those of the NCAA Division III regarding season length, number of contests and post-season competition.

The schools are all well-regarded academically:

Institution USNWR Category Rank
Amherst College Liberal Arts 2
Bates College Liberal Arts 21
Bowdoin College Liberal Arts 6
Colby College Liberal Arts 21
Connecticut College Liberal Arts 37
Hamilton College Liberal Arts 17
Middlebury College Liberal Arts 5
Trinity College Liberal Arts 37
Tufts University University 29
Wesleyan University Liberal Arts 12
Williams College Liberal Arts 1


Current members

The league currently has 11 full members:

Institution Location Team Name Founded Founding Religious Affiliation Enrollment Year Joined
Amherst College Amherst, Massachusetts Lord Jeffs 1821 Congregationalist 1,744 1971
Bates College Lewiston, Maine Bobcats 1855 Free Will Baptist 1,738 1971
Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine Polar Bears 1794 Congregationalist 1,777 1971
Colby College Waterville, Maine White Mules 1813 Northern Baptist 1,838 1971
Connecticut College New London, Connecticut Camels 1911 Methodist 1,911 1982
Hamilton College Clinton, New York Continentals 1793 Presbyterian 1,882 1971
Middlebury College Middlebury, Vermont Panthers 1800 Congregationalist 2,482 1971
Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bantams 1823 Episcopalian 2,341 1971
Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts Jumbos 1852 Universalist 5,138 1971
Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut Cardinals 1831 Methodist 2,766 1971
Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts Ephs 1793 Congregationalist 2,124 1971

Past members

Institution Location Team Name Founded Founding Religious Affiliation Enrollment Year Joined Year Left
Union College Schenectady, New York Dutchmen 1795 Non-denominational 2,194 1971 1977

Conference championships

The NESCAC holds conference championships in

NCAA Division III competition

Four NESCAC institutions are among the 39 that founded the NCAA in 1905: Amherst, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Williams.[2]

Prior to 1993 NESCAC generally did not allow member schools to send teams to NCAA championships. Since then all sports except football have had this freedom, many excelling in the NCAA Division III championships. The NACDA Directors' Cup, awarded since 1996 to the college or university in each NCAA Division that wins the most college championships, has been claimed at the Division III level by Williams College every year except 1998. In the 2009-2010 season, four of the top ten NACDA Director's Cup institutions were from NESCAC: Williams (1), Amherst (2), Middlebury (4), and Tufts (6).

In addition to the ban on post-season play, the NESCAC football league is notable for member teams playing conference games only. While some Division II and Division III teams play only conference schedules, NESCAC is unique in all of its members playing only conference games. As a consequence, they are the only NCAA football results that are not included in Peter Wolfe's computer ratings, which are one of the six ratings used by the Bowl Championship Series. Massey does, however, provide ratings for those teams separately.[3]

Middlebury leads NESCAC in total National Championship teams, winning 32 titles since the conference lifted its ban on NCAA play. Williams is second with 23 NCAA championships, Tufts next at 21.[4]

Conference venues

School Football Basketball
Stadium Capacity Arena Capacity
Amherst Pratt Field 8,000 LeFrak Gymnasium 2,450
Bates Garcelon Field 3,000 Alumni Gymnasium 750
Bowdoin Whittier Field 9,000 Morrell Gymnasium 2,000
Colby Harold Alfond Stadium 5,000 Wadsworth Gymnasium 2,500
Connecticut Non-football school N/A Luce Fieldhouse 800
Hamilton Steuben Field 2,500 Margaret Bundy Scott Field House 2,500
Middlebury Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium 3,500 Pepin Gymnasium 1,200
Trinity Jessee/Miller Field 6,500 Oosting Gym 2,000
Tufts Ellis Oval 6,000 Cousens Gym 1,000
Wesleyan Andrus Field 5,000 Silloway Gymnasium 1,200
Williams Weston Field 10,000 Chandler Gymnasium 2,900

Athletic spending

The U. S. Department of Education publishes statistics on athletic spending by colleges.[5] In 2008-09, athletic spending by NESCAC schools was as follows:

School Athletic Spending Div III rank Amount per Student Div III rank # Varsity Athletes Div III rank
Amherst $4,787,882 12 $2,821 5 525 38
Bates $3,935,033 19 $2,215 21 610 18
Bowdoin $4,107,899 14 $2,393 10 626 13
Colby $4,102,759 15 $2,221 19 624 14
Connecticut $2,948,418 53 $1,699 46 477 63
Hamilton $2,557,165 69 $1,395 90 563 28
Middlebury $4,926,939 8 $2,043 24 654 10
Trinity $4,469,160 13 $2,049 23 610 19
Tufts $3,365,255 30 $672 266 728 5
Wesleyan $4,067,608 16 $1,480 75 586 22
Williams $4,891,702 9 $2,466 7 793 2

Eight (out of eleven) NESCAC schools rank in the top 20 of Division III for total athletic spending. With the exception of Connecticut College, all NESCAC schools rank in the top 10% of Division III for # of varsity athletes. Connecticut College athletic spending and # of varsity athletes are low because it does not have a football team. Tufts per-student athletic spending is low because it has nearly double the undergraduate population (5,100) of its nearest NESCAC rival (Wesleyan, with 2,700).

Related athletic conferences

Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams are also the members of the Little Three conference. Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby are also the members of the CBB conference.

Notable Alumni


NESCAC schools currently count four Major League Baseball General Managers among their collective alumni.

Jed Hoyer (Wesleyan '96) - Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Chicago Cubs, former General Manager of the San Diego Padres, and former Assistant General Manager of the Boston Red Sox

Ben Cherington (Amherst '96) - General Manager of the Boston Red Sox
Neal Huntington (Amherst '91) - General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Dan Duquette (Amherst '80) - Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations for the Baltimore Orioles

Bill Smith (Hamilton '80) - former General Manager of the Minnesota Twins


Bill Belichick (Wesleyan '75) - Head coach of three Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots teams
Eric Mangini (Wesleyan '94) - Current NFL analyst for ESPN, former head coach of the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns, and former defensive coordinator for the Patriots

Ethan Brooks (Williams '96) - Professional football player (offensive tackle) for a number of teams until his retirement in 2005, and achieved his greatest success as a starter for the Baltimore Ravens

Eric DeCosta (Colby '93) - Director of Player Personnel for the Baltimore Ravens, captain of the Colby football team during his senior year (and later received a M.A. from Trinity, where he coached football from 1993 to 1995). He was recently named one of the most powerful people in sports under the age of 35 by The Sporting News.

Steven Hauschka (Middlebury '07) - Placekicker with the Atlanta Falcons


Guy Hebert (Hamilton '89) - Professional ice hockey goaltender for the St. Louis Blues, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and New York Rangers. In addition to his NHL career, Hebert also was selected to the 1998 Olympic hockey team that represented the United States in Nagano, Japan.


External links

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