About the SIAC
The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) was founded in 1913 and today, more than 100 years later, the conference remains 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, Fisk University, Jackson 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 University, 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, Tennessee State University and Xavier University. In 2019-2020 season, the league will add Savannah State University as their fourteenth official member.
The present membership is composed of fourteen different institutions in six states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee)
- Albany State University
- Benedict College
- Central State University
- Clark Atlanta University
- Fort Valley State University
- Kentucky State University
- Lane College
- LeMoyne-Owen College
- Miles College
- Morehouse College
- Paine College
- Spring Hill College
- Tuskegee University
As the second oldest historically black college and university athletic conference, the SIAC has one of the most storied histories in all of the NCAA. Many of the conference’s former athletes and coaches have transcended to larger-than-life characters that continue to be monumental in the world of sports. Furthermore, the chronicles of many SIAC programs are have been vital to the foundation of American society.
SIAC schools are known for being staunch competitors, where many have flourished to the realms of national and global celebrity.
As a whole, the conference has staked its claim to more than 50 team and individual national championships. In 1978, Florida A&M became the first black college to win a NCAA Football National Championship on any level when they defeat Massachusetts, 35-28, in the inaugural NCAA I-AA Championship Game.
The SIAC has a rich history on the gridiron, as some of the biggest names in college and professional sports began their careers in the conference. Headlining the list are Pro Football Hall of Famers “Bullet” Bob Hayes (Florida A&M), David “Deacon” Jones (South Carolina State), Larry Little (Bethune-Cookman), Shannon Sharpe (Savannah State), John Stallworth (Alabama A&M) and Rayfield Wright (Fort Valley State). Former Tuskegee legend Ben Stevenson, legendary Florida A&M football coach Jake Gaither, Fort Valley State’s all-time winningest head football coach Douglass Porter, Florida A&M’s Tyrone McGriff and Willie “Gallopin Gall” Gailmore are enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Fort Valley State alums Greg Lloyd, a former All-Pro for the Pittsburgh Steelers and recent inductee into the SIAC Hall of Fame, along with Tyrone Poole, a two-time Super Bowl Champion for the New England Patriots, are members of the NCAA Division II Football Hall of Fame.
Former Morehouse All-SIAC quarterback Jerome Boger has established himself as a top tier NFL official, recently serving as the head official for Superbowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. Playing a key role in that same contest was Lane alum and current Ravens wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Jones, who scored two touchdowns in the game. Jones highlights an impressive roster of former SIAC student-athletes playing in the league. Overall, the conference has produced more than 300 NFL players.
The SIAC is also home to football coaching legends Alonzo “Jake” Gaither and Cleveland Leigh “Major” Abbott. Gaither posted a 203-36-4 record (.835) and guided Florida A&M to six black college national championships, coupled with 22 SIAC titles during his 25-year tenure as head coach. Cleve Abbott coached all sports at Tuskegee during his 32 years at the school from 1923-1955. During this time, he won 11 SIAC football championships and seven black college national championships. Abbott’s teams were frontrunners in the conference during the 1920’s, posting six undefeated seasons while winning 46 consecutive games. From 1936-56, Abbott coached track and field, winning 25 of the 36 national AAU Championships in which his Tigers teams participated.
The SIAC’s renowned history extends to the hardwood, as two of the first four blacks selected to play in the NBA were from the conference.
Some of the former stars, who have enjoyed success in the NBA include: Florida A&M’s Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton and Clemon Johnson, in addition to the Jones brothers – Caldwell, Charles, Major and Wilbert of Albany State. The late Ed Adams was a member of the 1934 Tuskegee squad that won the inaugural SIAC basketball tournament championship. Adams would later became a coach, spending 23 seasons leading Tuskegee to 645 wins, posting an .811 winning percentage while becoming the first black basketball coach to win 500 games. Former Temple University head coach John Chaney began his basketball career at Bethune-Cookman, where he scored more than 3,500 points and led the Wildcats to an SIAC Championship in the late 1950’s. Long-time Fort Valley State women’s basketball head coach Lonnie Bartley became the all-time winningest black college women’s basketball coach in 2012 after 28 seasons at the helm. Both Chaney and Bartley are 2014 SIAC Hall of Fame inductees.
The SIAC has also made significant footprints on a global scale in track and field. In 1948, Alice Coachman became the first black woman to win a gold medal as she captured the gold in the high jump at the London Games. At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, Tuskegee graduate Barbara Jacket, was an Olympic coach with the track and field team. In 1996, Benedict College graduate Dr. Leroy T. Walker became the first African-American appointed President of the United States Olympic committee. Other Olympic notables are: 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); Jearl Miles-Clark of Alabama A&M (1st Place 4x400 meter in 1996 and 2000), Dannette Young (1st place in the 400 meter relay in 1998) and 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.
One of the greatest tennis players of All-Time, Althea Gibson of Florida A&M, competed in the SIAC. In 1957, Gibson became the first black to win a singles title at Wimbledon and is now a member of the National Tennis Hall of Fame.
The conference has also achieved a level of success in baseball, which includes a World Series MVP.
Donn Clendenon, an alumnus of Morehouse, was named the MVP of the 1969 World Series as a member of the New York Mets. Florida A&M’s Andre Dawson, formerly of the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs, became the first player from the conference inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Both Clendenon and Dawson are 2014 SIAC Hall of Fame inductees. Others making history in baseball include Bill Lucas, another alumni of Florida A&M, who became MLB’s first black general manager with the Atlanta Braves in 1978 after his playing career.
The SIAC concluded a banner year in 1993 as member institutions competed for NCAA Division II Championships in eight different sports. Albany State made its first trip to the playoffs after posting an 11-0 season; Alabama A&M’s women’s outdoor track and field team won their second consecutive National Championship, while their men’s outdoor team finished 10th in the nation; A&M’s men’s and women’s indoor track and field team both finished in the top five in the country while their cross country team won the southeastern regional title and finished eighth at nationals; A&M’s men’s and women’s basketball squads each made the playoff appearances.
The SIAC is also home to both the longest running rivalry and the winningest team in black college football. Morehouse and Tuskegee have met 106 times since their inaugural contest in 1902. Tuskegee’s football program has recorded more than 650 victories – first among Historically Black Colleges and Universities