INDIANAPOLIS -- Eight Division III colleges in the Southeast have joined together to form a new athletics conference called the Southern Athletic Association. The new conference will begin play in the 2012-13 academic year.

Spanning six states, the Southern Athletic Association includes Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, Centre College in Kentucky, Hendrix College in Arkansas, Millsaps College in Mississippi, Oglethorpe University and Berry College in Georgia, and Rhodes College and Sewanee (the University of the South) in Tennessee.

The new conference emerged earlier this summer when Birmingham-Southern, Centre, Hendrix, Millsaps, Oglethorpe, Rhodes and Sewanee announced they were leaving the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, effective June 30, 2012.

All seven institutions will participate fully as members of the SCAC in the 2011-12 academic year and will honor all scheduling commitments made for that season. Berry is currently proceeding through the Division III provisional/reclassifying membership process.

League officials say the Southern Athletic Association is designed as a more regional collection of institutions, thus reducing travel costs and missed class time.

Jay Gardiner, athletics director at Oglethorpe, will serve as the Southern Athletic Association’s interim commissioner. Oglethorpe President Lawrence Schall will serve as convener of the conference’s presidential council during the 2011-12 academic year while Brian Chafin, athletics director at Centre, will serve as convener of the athletics director council.