SHERMAN, Texas – Beginning in 2017, the Austin College football team will compete as an affiliate member of the Southern Athletic Association. Both Austin College and Trinity University will join the SAA in football only, while remaining members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) across all other sports.
"We are so pleased that Austin College has the opportunity to reconnect with other national NCAA Division III liberal arts schools in football," said Austin College president Marjorie Hass. "We have 16 varsity athletic teams, and 15 will continue to enjoy robust competition with the schools in the SCAC. The last few years, we were challenged in that few of these fine schools have football programs. This admittance into the SAA provides a solution that is the best of both Division III athletic worlds; football competition in the SAA with our other 15 varsity sports competing in the SCAC."
The SAA features Berry College, Birmingham-Southern College, Centre College, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, Rhodes College, and Sewanee: the University of the South as football members as the conference heads into the 2016 season, with the 'Roos and Tigers joining the following year.
"I'm very grateful that our administration has worked to make this possible," said Kangaroo head football coach Loren Dawson. "We're excited for the opportunity this provides our young men to compete against the longstanding Division III schools in the SAA."
As an affiliate member of the SAA, the Austin College football team will now be able to compete for an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament, as the SAA is one of 25 conferences whose regular season champion receives automatic qualification for the national championship field.
"We are extremely happy to be a part of the SAA in football," said Austin College athletics director David Norman. "This will enable our football program to provide a stable, competitive experience for our only NCAA Division III non-automatic qualifier sport. This opportunity reinforces the overall commitment of Austin College to continue to provide the best student-athlete experience for all of our participants."
The SAA was formed in 2011 and began play in the 2012-2013 academic year, consisting of former members of the SCAC as well as Berry, which at the time was an independent program. The league is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and also features Oglethorpe University as a non-football playing member.
"We are thrilled to add Austin College and Trinity as full football members in the fall of 2017," said SAA Commissioner Jay Gardiner. "Both schools share the core principles of dedication and determination that the SAA and NCAA Division III embody, and they will be excellent additions to our conference."