The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) was founded in 1913 and today, 90 years later, the conference still flies high as one of the nation’s most viable forces in intercollegiate athletics.
On December 30, 1913, representatives of the following institutions met at Morehouse College to consider the regulations of intercollegiate athletics among black colleges in the southeast: Alabama State University, Atlanta University, Clark College, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, Talladega College and Tuskegee Institute. The representatives formed a permanent organization (The Southeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) which has had a continuous history to the present. In 1929, they changed the name of this organization to The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Two institutions have held continuous membership in the conference: Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) and Tuskegee University. Other institutions which have held membership are Alabama A&M University, Allen University, Benedict College, Bethune-Cookman College, Edward Waters College, Fisk University, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University, Knoxville College, Morris Brown College, Rust College, Savannah State University, South Carolina State University, Stillman College, Tennessee State University and Xavier University.
The present membership is composed of eleven different institutions in five states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee): Albany State University, Benedict College, Clark Atlanta University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Lane College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Miles College, Morehouse College, Paine College and Tuskegee University.
The SIAC is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and participates at the Division II level. On an annual basis, the SIAC sponsors six men’s championships (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, outdoor track & field and tennis) and six women’s championships (basketball, cross country, outdoor track & field, softball, tennis and volleyball).
SIAC teams and its athletes are known for being staunch competitors and for excelling on the national level. The conference as a whole has claimed over 50 team and individual national championships. In 1978, Florida A&M became the first black college to win the NCAA Division I-AA National Football Championship when they defeat Massachusetts 35-28 in the finals. The SIAC also has over 300 former and current professional football players.
Some retired NFL players who played in the SIAC: Hall of Famers John Stallworth of Alabama A&M, David "Deacon" Jones of South Carolina State and Larry Little of Bethune-Cookman. Other SIAC NFL greats include Rayfield Wright (Fort Valley State), Jack McClarien (Bethune Cookman), Bob Hayes (Florida A&M), Alfred Jenkins (Morris Brown), John Gilliam (South Carolina State) and Oliver Ross (Alabama A&M).
Additionally, SIAC Athletes who went pro more recently include
All-Pros Greg Lloyd who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers
(Fort Valley State) and Shannon Sharpe of the Denver Broncos
(Savannah State) as well as Anthony Abrams of the Washington
Redskins (Clark Atlanta), Eddie Anderson of the Los Angeles
Raiders (Fort Valley State), Howard Ballard of the Seattle
Seahawks (Alabama A&M), Charles Evans of the Minnesota Vikings
(Clark Atlanta), Dan Land of the Oakland Raiders (Albany State),
Fred Lester of the New York Jets (Alabama A&M), Joe Patton
of the Washington Redskins (Alabama A&M), Barry Wagner of the
Indianapolis Colts (Alabama A&M), Tyrone Poole of the Carolina
Panthers (Fort Valley) and Roosevelt Blackmon of the Green
Bay Packers (Morris Brown).
The SIAC is also home to football coaching legends, College Football Hall of Famer Alonzo Smith "Jake" Gaither and Cleveland Leigh "Major" Abbott. Gaither won 203 football games while only losing 36 and tying four. He guided Florida A&M to six black college national championships and his Rattlers won the SIAC Championship 22 of the 25 years he coached college football. Cleve Abbott coached all sports at Tuskegee in 1923, and he served there continuously from 1923 to 1955. He won eleven SIAC football championships and seven black college football national championships. Abbott had a total of six undefeated seasons, and his Tigers went 46 consecutive games without a loss in the mid 1920s. From 1936-56, Abbott’s track teams at Tuskegee participated in 36 national AAU championships and won 25.
Two of the first four blacks selected to play in the NBA were from the SIAC. Some of the former stars who have enjoyed success in the NBA include the Jones brothers - Caldwell, Charles, Major and Wilbert of Albany State, Clemon Johnson of Florida A&M and Harold Ellis of Morehouse. On the coaching side the late Ed Adams coached at Tuskegee and during his 23-year span, he won 645 games and only lost 153 for an .811 winning percentage. Adams was a member of the 1934 Tuskegee team that won the first SIAC Basketball Tournament Championship and he was the first black basketball coach to win 500 games. Also, current Temple University Head Coach John Chaney is an SIAC alumnus. Chaney was one of the SIAC’s outstanding players in the late 1950s at Bethune-Cookman.
The first black female to win a gold medal in any Olympic Sport, Alice Coachman, came from the SIAC. Coachman won an Olympic gold medal in the high jump at the 1948 Olympic Games in London with a jump of 5’6-1/8". She also won the AAU high jump title for 10 consecutive years. Other SIAC Olympic Gold Medalists include Catherine Hardy of Fort Valley State (1st place in the 400 meter relay in 1952); Mildred McDaniel of Tuskegee (1st place in the high jump in 1956); Bob Hayes of Florida A&M (1st place in the 100 meter dash in 1964); Edwin Moses of Morehouse (1st place in the 400 meter hurdles in 1976 and 1984) who went 10 years without a loss in hurdle competition; Dannette Young (1st place in the 400 meter relay in 1988). The SIAC has also had an Olympic track coach at the 1992 games, Tuskegee University graduate Barbara Jacket. Another SIAC track and field standout is Evelyn Lawler. She is also a graduate of Tuskegee University and won a gold medal at the Pan American Games. Lawler’s other claim to fame lies with her offspring. Lawler is the mother of Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis.
In 1957, Althea Gibson of Florida A&M became the first black to win the singles title at Wimbledon, and she is a member of the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame.
The SIAC also has had its share of success on the baseball diamond, which includes a World Series MVP. Donn Clendenon of Morehouse was the MVP of the 1969 World Series when he played with the New York Mets. Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs and Vince Coleman of the St. Louis Cardinals played at Florida A&M. Other A&M Rattlers that made it to the big show include Greg Coleman and Bill Lucas. After concluding his major league baseball career, Lucas became the first black general manager in baseball with the Atlanta Braves in 1978.
A banner year for the SIAC was 1993 when member institutions competed for NCAA Division II Championships in eight different sports. In football, Albany State went 11-0 during the regular season and made its first trip to the playoffs; Alabama A&M’s men and women competed in the Indoor Track and Field Championships and both finished in the top five. In men’s basketball, Alabama A&M made a national playoff appearance as did Fort Valley State’s women’s squad. Alabama A&M’s men’s cross country team won the southeastern regional title and finished eighth at the nationals. At the Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Alabama A&M’s men finished 10th and the women claimed their second consecutive national title.
The SIAC is also home to both the longest running rivalry and the winningest team in black college football. Morehouse and Tuskegee have been doing battle since 1902 and will hit the field for the 94th time in the 2003 season. Tuskegee will be celebrating its 110th season this fall and they have amassed 554 victories - first among Historically Black Colleges and Universities
All SIAC member institutions have a rich athletic history. They rely heavily on past leadership to help them face today’s challenges as they continue their quest to excel in collegiate athletics.
THE NEW SIAC
"Blending 90 years of tradition with the future"
|Albany State University|| Benedict College|
|Clark Atlanta University|| Fort Valley State College|
|Kentucky State University||Lane College|
|LeMoyne Owen College||Miles College|
|Morehouse College|| Paine College|