Birmingham-Southern College, Centre College, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, Oglethorpe University, Rhodes College and University of the South are leaving the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, effective June 30, 2012.

Presidents at those institutions made the announcement on Tuesday at the annual spring meeting of the league’s Board of Directors.

The remaining five members of the SCAC (Austin College, Colorado College, University of Dallas, Southwestern University (Texas) and Trinity University (Texas)) already have been approached by potential new members, and have established a long-range goal of creating an eight- to 10-member conference. The SCAC name, history and key NCAA conference designations such as automatic qualification for its champions, shall be retained by these institutions.

“The SCAC has been around for 50 years and has gone through numerous membership changes,” said Commissioner Dwayne Hanberry, who has elected to remain with the conference. “Each transformation of the conference has ultimately made it a stronger entity. I am confident, as are the five presidents, that the SCAC will re-establish itself and continue to function as one of the most academically and athletically desirable destinations for Division III student-athletes in the nation.”

Established in 1991, the SCAC grew out of the College Athletic Conference, which was formed in 1962 by three of the colleges in the new conference (Centre, Rhodes and Sewanee).

The seven institutions leaving the conference will participate fully as members of the SCAC in the 2011-12 academic year and will honor all scheduling commitments made for that season.

The new league they and Berry College will form in 2012-13 is designed as a more regional collection of institutions, thus reducing travel costs and missed class time.

“Given the quality and success of the SCAC over the years, the decision was difficult.  The SCAC is an outstanding conference with top-quality academic institutions that also play NCAA Division III sports at the top level of competition,” said Birmingham-Southern President Gen. Charles C. Krulak, who attended the Tuesday meeting. “But this new league will offer us the opportunity to continue competing at the highest level athletically against institutions of similar academic mission, while greatly reducing travel costs and the amount of time our scholar-athletes have to be on the road traveling for contests.”

The new conference spans six Southeastern states:
• Alabama (Birmingham-Southern)
• Arkansas (Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.)
• Georgia (Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and Berry College in Rome, Ga.)
• Kentucky (Centre College in Danville, Ky.)
• Mississippi (Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.)
• Tennessee (Rhodes College in Memphis and University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.)

Jay Gardiner, the athletics director at Oglethorpe, will serve as the new conference’s interim commissioner. Oglethorpe President Lawrence Schall, who currently chairs the SCAC executive committee, will serve as convener of the conference’s Presidential Council during the 2011-12 academic year. Brian Chafin, athletics director at Centre, will serve as convener of the Athletics Director Council in 2011-12.

A name for the new league and other logistical information, such as a permanent commissioner and conference headquarters, will be announced later.