February 18, 2022 (Rome, Ga.) - Nine member institutions of the USA South Athletic Conference (USAS) have officially formed and have been approved by the NCAA as a new Division III athletic conference, following a planned separation of USAS.
This new conference, the Collegiate Conference of the South (CCS), will include Agnes Scott College, Belhaven University, Berea College, Covenant College, Huntingdon College, LaGrange College, Maryville College, Piedmont University, and Wesleyan College.
“The creation of the Collegiate Conference of the South provides an ideal grouping of schools who all share our similar characteristics - private institutions, commitment to prioritizing academics, and balanced quality athletic programs,” said Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott. “I've especially been impressed with the outlook of this wonderful group of member presidents who have a deep commitment to assuring a high quality athletic and academic experience for our student athletes.”
The USA South is currently the nation's largest NCAA Division III conference, with nineteen member institutions. After years of internal discussions, a two-conference separation strategy emerged, and more recently, the USAS Presidents Council formally committed to the establishment of two viable conferences. The new CCS was officially incorporated in the State of Georgia on January 12, 2022, and application materials for conference membership were officially approved on Thursday, February 17 by the NCAA Division III Membership Committee.
The CCS Presidents Council and Executive Committee are led by Dr. Bryan F. Coker (President, Maryville College), Chair; Dr. Susanna L. Baxter (President, LaGrange College), Vice-Chair; and Rev. J. Cameron West (President, Huntingdon College), At-Large Representative. CCS schools are being supported in forming this new conference by Dr. Kurt Patberg, who is currently serving as CCS Acting Commissioner.
Dr. Bryan F. Coker, CCS Chair, stated of this news, “We are grateful to our USA South colleagues for the productive and collegial manner in which this separation has been approached, and we are immensely excited about the possibilities which lay ahead for the new Collegiate Conference of the South. In addition, we are thrilled that the NCAA has supported our application for membership as we move toward full competition in the fall of 2022.”
Belhaven University's Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Little stated, “The launch of the Collegiate Conference of the South provides an even more refined geographic footprint and allows our student athletes additional competitive opportunities with non-conference opponents. We are excited to see this dream become reality.”
In addition to sharing the member institutions' geographic identity, the name, Collegiate Conference of the South, is indicative of their shared commitment to academic excellence, which is commensurate with the NCAA Division III philosophy. Now officially approved, the CCS plans to officially begin full-time operations in summer 2022 and compete in 14 championship sports beginning in fall 2022.
The championship sports for men are baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field, and for women are basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The sports of football, women's golf, and men's and women's lacrosse will continue to compete in the USA South as associate members.