The Southwest Conference was an NCAA Division I college athletic conference that existed from 1914 to 1996. For most of its history, the core members of the conference were Texas-based schools Rice, SMU, Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, plus Arkansas.
Arkansas left for the Southeastern Conference in 1991; five years later, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech combined with the members of the former Big Eight to form the Big 12 Conference. Rice, SMU, TCU, and Houston found homes in other conferences; TCU later joined the Big 12, as will Houston in 2023.
I mention all this because the rumors are circulating that the league most familiar to people in our area may also be on the verge of collapsing. The Atlantic Coast Conference was formed at a meeting in Greensboro in 1953 and its headquarters has been in Greensboro ever since. The conference announced in October that it was contemplating moving its headquarters.
The two front runners for the ACC headquarters' new location appear to be Charlotte and Orlando. $15 million was set aside in the North Carolina budget approved last week by the General Assembly that it is hoped will help keep the headquarters in our atete.
Lincoln County representative Jason Saine, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, confirmed was to try to keep the ACC headquarters in North Carolina, most likely in Charlotte. Saine told a Raleigh tv station: “We just want to make sure that we keep it here. You grow up in the state, one, it’s sentimental, but two, from an economic development standpoint from what we attract as far as future tournaments and where they’re going to be played, if they're headquartered in this state, we’re far better off. Hate to get competing between two cities, but the reality is some cities have more of what they need right now.”
All of this discussion is happening at the same time as several teams in the Conference are rumored to be looking at the possibility of moving to other leagues.
Notre Dame is a conference member for other sports, but because it had a lucrative deal on its football program, remains independent in that respect. South Carolina left the league for the Southeast Conference and joined that league in 1991, the same year as Arkansas. Maryland left for the Big 10 in 2014. Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1978; Miami and Virginia Tech became ACC teams in 2004, Boston College in 2005, and Syracuse and Pittsburgh in 2013, the same year Notre Dame joined in sports other than football.
Some of the rumors even say the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12 may be blocked from a future national championship playoff exclusive to the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame. Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 are already planning to join the Southeast Conference in 2024. That's also the year USC (Univ. of Southern California) and UCLA are leaving the Pac 12 for the Big 10 (although it will soon be more like the big 20).
The rumors also have Clemson, Florida State and Miami possibly joining the SEC.
Prior to the founding of the ACC, UNC, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, South Carolina and Maryland were members of the Southern Conference. Founded in 1921, that league, despite losing most of its better known athletic schools, is still around. Appalachian State was a member from 1971 until 2014. Davidson was a member for two periods, the latest ending in 2014. East Carolina was from 1964 until 1976; Elon from 2000 until 2014, Marshall from 1976 until 1997. In its earlier years, the league also included Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and LSU.
The world has changed from what we old-timers knew. UNC Chancellor Bill Friday was correct, "the day of student athletes has passed." College players can now get paid for the use of their photos. It's obvious to anyone that money is now the dominant factor in almost every decision in college sports. The big get bigger and richer every year, and no there is no end to it in sight.