The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC History

36 days ago

History of the SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

A pioneer in the integration of higher education and athletic competition, the Southeastern Conference is a leader on the national landscape for intercollegiate athletics in the 21st century.

Since its formation in 1933, the SEC has achieved stature and stability by designating governing/voting power to the presidents of the member institutions. These university leaders determine the policies of the conference and through the years this involvement has been the principal source of strength in the evolution of the SEC. Throughout its 82-year history, the SEC has provided leadership on the vital issues facing intercollegiate competition.

Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have been in the SEC since its formation in 1933. The league has expanded twice, adding Arkansas and South Carolina in 1991, then Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012.

Organization, Contraction and Expansion

SEC schools began athletic competition with one another more than 100 years ago as members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Seven institutions (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Sewanee and Vanderbilt) attended the SIAA organizational meeting of faculty representatives, called by Dr. William L. Dudley of Vanderbilt, in Atlanta Dec. 22, 1894.

Student teams from the schools began meeting in various sports with little pattern to their contests. The American adaptation of the English game rugby, called "football," was drifting down from the East and Midwest. Southerners were quickly attracted to this sport formalized in 1869.

The first football game in the Southeast was played April 9, 1880, on the ground now called Old Stoll Field at the University of Kentucky. Kentucky A&M (now UK) organized a team and in November 1881, played Transylvania College in a three-game series. By 1895, 11 current SEC members were playing football.

Basketball moved quickly to the South as Vanderbilt was playing at the Nashville YMCA in 1893, just two years after Dr. James Naismith originated the game at Springfield (Mass.) College.

Track was organized on a conference level at the 1895 SIAA meeting presided over by President Dudley who served until his death in 1914. The first championship meet was held at Vanderbilt May 15, 1896. By 1900, eight of the 13 charter SEC members were participating.

The seven-member SIAA expanded to 19 institutions in 1895 (Alabama, Auburn, Central, Clemson, Cumberland, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mercer, Mississippi State, Nashville, North Carolina, Sewanee, Southwestern Presbyterian, Tennessee, Texas, Tulane and Vanderbilt) and by 1920 there were 30 members.

The larger schools reorganized as the Southern Conference at a meeting in Gainesville Dec. 12-13, 1920. Professor S.V. Sanford of Georgia called the meeting and served as the first president. Charter members of the Southern Conference included: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Washington & Lee.

Despite an original limit of 16, the membership grew to 23 by 1928. In 1922 Florida, Louisiana State, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tulane, Vanderbilt and Virginia Military joined, while Sewanee and Duke became members in 1923 and 1928 respectively. At one time or another, the SIAA and the SC included most of the Southern colleges from Virginia to Texas.

The 13 members west and south of the Appalachian Mountains reorganized as the Southeastern Conference at the annual SC meeting of Dec. 8-9, 1932, in Knoxville. The 10 coast members remained in the Southern Conference. Dr. Frank L. McVey of Kentucky was elected president of the new conference whose charter members were: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane and Vanderbilt. (Sewanee withdrew Dec. 13, 1940, Georgia Tech on June 1, 1964 and Tulane on June 1, 1966). McVey held an informal meeting of the school presidents in Birmingham Feb. 16, 1933, then the first full meeting in Atlanta Feb. 27.

Faced with the task of conference realignment after competing with 10 members since 1966, the SEC welcomed the University of Arkansas on Aug. 1, 1990, and the University of South Carolina on Sept. 25, 1990. Both joined the SEC on July 1, 1991.

Fully incorporated into conference competition by 1992, Arkansas and South Carolina participated in SEC championships for all sports except football during the 1991-92 academic year. The SEC was again at the forefront, introducing football, basketball and baseball divisional play and the nation's first-ever Division I football championship game.

The conference welcomed Texas A&M University on Sept. 25, 2011, and University of Missouri on Nov. 6, 2011, in the only other expansion in SEC history. Both joined the SEC on July 1, 2012 and competed in their first year in all conference sports in 2012-13.

Office of The Commissioner

The office of the commissioner was formed in 1940 in Jackson due to the great amount of detail work developing, especially in recruiting and eligibility.

  • Martin S. Conner, former governor of the state of Mississippi, took office as Commissioner Aug. 21, 1940. Conner later became ill and the secretary of the conference, Dean N.W. Dougherty of Tennessee, served as Acting Commissioner during the fall of 1946.
  • Bernie H. Moore became the second full-time Commissioner on Feb. 21, 1948, when the office moved to Birmingham. Moore, a former LSU coach, guided the SEC to national respect in his 18-year tenure.
  • A.M. (Tonto) Coleman succeeded Moore as Commissioner upon his retirement April 1, 1966. The Alabama native, who was experienced in athletic coaching and administration, served six and a half years.
  • Dr. H. Boyd McWhorter, then Dean of Arts and Sciences at Georgia and secretary of the league since 1967, accepted the position of Commissioner upon the retirement of Coleman Aug. 1, 1972. Under his leadership the SEC experienced unparalleled growth. In McWhorter's first year the SEC distributed $1.57 million and 14 years later, his final year as Commissioner in 1986, the league distributed $15 million in revenue to the member institutions.
  • Dr. Harvey W. Schiller, an Air Force colonel and faculty chair at the U.S. Air Force Academy, followed McWhorter upon his retirement, taking office as Commissioner on Sept. 15, 1986. Under his guidance the SEC established itself as a leader in the areas of athletic scholarship and marketing.
  • Roy F. Kramer succeeded Schiller on Jan. 10, 1990. Kramer, who served on numerous NCAA committees, joined the league office after spending 12 years as athletic director at Vanderbilt. Kramer was Commissioner for more than 12 years before retiring in 2002. The SEC expanded by two schools during his tenure, he created the ultra-successful SEC Football Championship Game and was instrumental in the creation of the Bowl Championship Series.
  • Michael L. Slive, who served as Commissioner of Conference USA for seven years, was appointed the seventh Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference on July 2, 2002. Serving in the position for 13 years, he created a new culture of NCAA compliance in the league, oversaw the expansion of the SEC by two schools, negotiated landmark television agreements and engineered the birth of the SEC Network in a partnership with ESPN. He also played a key role in the development of the College Football Playoff.
  • Gregory A. Sankey, a former Commissioner of the Southland Conference and 13-year veteran of the SEC Office, became the eighth commissioner of the Southeastern Conference on June 1, 2015. Sankey served under Slive as Associate Commissioner for Compliance and then Executive Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, playing a central role in crafting the new Autonomy structure of the NCAA that was adopted in January 2015.

SEC Milestones

  • December 22, 1894: In Atlanta, Dr. William L. Dudley of Vanderbilt presides over an organization meeting of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Sewanee and Vanderbilt. Football formalized in 1869.
  • April 9, 1880: First football game in The Southeast on ground now called Old Stoll Field at the University of Kentucky is played.
  • 1893: Vanderbilt begins playing basketball at the Nashville YMCA two years after Naismith originated the game at Springfield (Mass.) College.
  • 1895: SIAA expands and adds Central, Clemson, Cumberland, Kentucky, LSU, Mercer, Mississippi, Nashville, Southeastern Presbyterian, Tennessee, Texas and Tulane.
  • 1895: SIAA organized track on conference level.
  • May 15, 1896: First conference championship (track) held at Vanderbilt.
  • 1920: SIAA encompasses 30 members.
  • December 12-13, 1920: In Gainesville, Fla. Professor S.V. Sanford (Georgia) presides over newly formed Southern Conference (Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Washington and Lee).
  • 1922: Florida, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tulane, Vanderbilt and Virginia Military join the Southern Conference.
  • 1923: Sewanee joins the Southern Conference.
  • 1928: Duke joins the Southern Conference.
  • December 8-9, 1932: In Knoxville, Dr. Frank L. McVey (Kentucky) serves as president as the SEC is formed with 13 members of the Southern Conference located west and south of the Appalachian Mountains. The institutions are: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, Vanderbilt.
  • February 16, 1933: Informal meeting of SEC school presidents, Birmingham, Ala.
  • February 27, 1933: First full meeting, Atlanta, Ga.
  • 1933: First SEC champions crowned in baseball, basketball, football and outdoor track.
  • February 24 - 28, 1933: League's first basketball tournament in Atlanta, Ga.
  • Spring 1933: First NCAA Championship won by SEC school (LSU, men's track).
  • 1935: League sponsors first men's team title for cross country.
  • 1937: League sponsors first men's team title for golf and swimming.
  • 1938: League sponsors first men's team title for tennis.
  • 1940: In Jackson, Miss., the office of the commissioner is formed.
  • August 21, 1940: Former Mississippi Governor Martin S. Conner named first SEC commissioner.
  • December 13, 1940: Sewanee withdraws from the SEC.
  • Fall 1946: Secretary of the Conference Dean N.W. Dougherty (University of Tennessee) named acting SEC commissioner.
  • 1948: Conference office moves to Birmingham, Ala.
  • February 21, 1948: Former LSU coach Bernie H. Moore named second SEC commissioner.
  • 1948: Kentucky Wildcats bring home the first NCAA basketball Tournament win by an SEC team.
  • October 20, 1951: The Alabama-Tennessee football game in Birmingham's Legion Field becomes the first televised event in SEC history.
  • 1952: University of Alabama Faculty Chairman of Athletics, Dr. Albert B. Moore, becomes first SEC representative to serve as NCAA president.
  • 1957: League sponsors first men's team title for indoor track.
  • June 1, 1964: Georgia Tech withdraws from the SEC.
  • 1965: Kentucky football's Nat Northington becomes the first African-American athlete to receive an athletic scholarship at an SEC institution.
  • 1966: A.M. (Tonto) Coleman named third SEC commissioner.
  • June 1, 1966: Tulane withdraws from the SEC.
  • 1971: Dr. Earl M. Ramer, University of Tennessee faculty athletic representative, is second SEC official to serve as NCAA president.
  • August 1, 1972: Dr. H. Boyd McWhorter, Dean of Arts and Sciences at University of Georgia and secretary of the league, named fourth SEC commissioner.
  • 1979-80: SEC championships for women's basketball, tennis and volleyball recognized.
  • 1980-81: SEC championships for women's golf, gymnastics, swimming and track and field added.
  • 1981: Georgia defeats Pittsburg, California and Arizona State (in OT) to capture the NWIT Championship, the first-ever national championship of any kind for the SEC in women's basketball.
  • 1982: Florida becomes the first SEC school to win an NCAA women's title in any sport. The Gators, under Coach Randy Reese, scored 505 points to take the swimming & diving national championship.
  • 1982: The Tennessee Lady Vols become the first SEC team to reach the women's Final Four. After beating Jackson State, Memphis State and Southern Cal to reach the Final Four, the Volunteers lose to Louisiana Tech in the semifinals.
  • July 1983: The SEC signs an agreement with the Turner Broadcasting System to begin airing a football "Game of the Week" in the fall of 1984.
  • September 1, 1984: Women's athletics comes under the auspices of the SEC.
  • 1985: Florida wins the NCAA title in golf, the first national championship in the sport for the league.
  • March 26, 1986: The SEC and Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions (JP Sports) sign a contract to televise basketball games on a syndicated basis throughout the region.
  • September 15, 1986: Dr. Harvey W. Schiller, an Air Force colonel and faculty chair at the U.S. Air Force Academy named fifth SEC commissioner.
  • 1987: Georgia wins the national title in gymnastics, scoring 187.90 points.
  • 1987: Pat Summitt's Lady Volunteers win their, and the SEC's, first ever NCAA title in women's basketball when Tennessee defeated Louisiana Tech, 67-44, in Austin, Texas.
  • 1987: LSU win the first NCAA title in Indoor Track & Field for the SEC.
  • 1987: LSU also wins the first NCAA Outdoor Track & Field title for the league.
  • 1988: The Kentucky Wildcats take home the SEC's first national title in cross country.
  • 1988: Auburn and Tennessee reach the Final Four of the women's NCAA Basketball Tournament, marking the first time one conference had two teams in the final round. Louisiana Tech defeated the Lady Vols in the semifinals and nipped Joe Ciampi's Auburn Tigers, 56-54, in the championship game.
  • January 10, 1990: Roy F. Kramer, Vanderbilt athletics director, named sixth SEC commissioner.
  • 1990: University of Arkansas (11th member) and University of South Carolina (12th member) join the league (the two institutions participated in SEC championships for all sports except football during the 1991-92 academic year).
  • May 30, 1991: SEC presidents award the inaugural SEC Football Championship Game to the city of Birmingham.
  • 1992: Florida wins the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championship, the first for the sport.
  • December 5, 1992: SEC hosts the nation's first Division 1A conference football championship game at Legion Field in Birmingham. Alabama defeats Florida 28-21 and goes on to capture the national title at the USF&G Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
  • 1993: SEC institutions adopt the Principles of Gender Equity recognizing that each school will provide at least two more women's intercollegiate programs than the number of men's programs.
  • 1993: SEC championship for women's soccer added.
  • February 11, 1994: SEC announces a multi-sport television agreement with CBS Sports to televise SEC football (1996-2001), and men's and women's basketball (1994-95 through 2000-01).
  • 1995: FOX Sports South broadcasts the SEC Tournament Championship match between Alabama and Kentucky on a tape-delayed basis, signifying the first appearance of an SEC women's soccer match on television.
  • 1997: SEC championship for softball added.
  • February 2, 1998: SEC reaches a multi-year extension with CBS Sports to broadcast its football and men's and women's basketball games.
  • 1998: Florida wins the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer College Cup with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina. It's the only national title in soccer for the league.
  • 1999: The SEC is the first league to ever have eight teams invited to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
  • June 7, 1999: SEC and ESPN reach a multi-year extension to televise football and men's and women's basketball for the next eight seasons.
  • June 2, 2002: Michael L. Slive, who served as Commissioner of Conference USA, appointed seventh SEC commissioner.
  • June 4: 2004: SEC Task Force on Compliance and Enforcement issues its report calling to have none of the league's schools on NCAA probation within the next five years. Report is unanimously accepted.
  • February 23, 2005: SEC announced the formation of its Academic Consortium linking the academic resources of its member institutions.
  • 2007: Vanderbilt wins the national championship in women's bowling. The Commodores are the only SEC institution with a bowling team.
  • August 14, 2008: CBS Sports and the SEC announce a 15-year agreement to extend broadcasts of SEC football and basketball games. CBS will continue to be exclusive national network broadcast of SEC home football games and the SEC Championship game.
  • August 25, 2008: ESPN and the SEC announce a 15-year agreement beginning in 2009-10 through 2023-24. It is the longest national rights agreement in ESPN history. ESPN entities will carry more than 5,500 SEC events including football, men's and women's basketball, Olympic sports and SEC Championships.
  • Fall 2011: League announces that Texas A&M (13th member) and Missouri (14th member) will join the conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year.
  • 2011: Kentucky wins the national title in Rifle, a co-ed sport.
  • 2012: Alabama becomes the first Southeastern Conference team to win an NCAA softball championship with their 5-4 win over Oklahoma.
  • July 1, 2012: Missouri and Texas A&M officially become members of the Southeastern Conference.
  • 2012: It is announced that the SEC will determine a league champion in equestrian beginning in the 2012-2013 season. It becomes the 21st sports sponsored by the league. Currently Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M compete in collegiate equestrian.
  • January 2013: Alabama defeats Notre Dame 42-14 at the BCS Championship Game in Miami, Fla., the seventh consecutive national title for the SEC.
  • 2013: SEC Championship for equestrian added.
  • May 2, 2013: The SEC, in conjunction with ESPN, announces the creation of The SEC Network, set to launch in August of 2014.
  • August 14, 2014: The SEC Network, a multiplatform network, which will air SEC content 24/7 including more than 1,000 events in its first year, launches.
  • 2014: The SEC sends a NCAA-record 12 teams to participate in postseason bowl games. The SEC matched its most wins during a bowl season with seven.
  • June 1, 2015: Gregory A. Sankey becomes the SEC's eighth commissioner.
  • 2015: Alabama captured the SEC's first national championship of the College Football Playoff era.
  • 2016: The SEC sends nine teams to the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. It's the most SEC teams to receive bids to the NCAAs in conference history and the second time in NCAA history that one conference has sent nine teams to the tournament.
  • June 2016: Four SEC teams advance to the Women's College World Series (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU), marking the first time that one conference made up half the field of teams participating in Oklahoma City.
  • 2016: The SEC celebrated 25 years of the SEC Championship Game, the last in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
  • 2017: The SEC became the first to send two teams to the College Football Playoff, as both SEC Champion Georgia and Alabama were selected. With both collecting semifinal wins, the league enjoyed the second SEC vs. SEC national championship game since the 2011 season.
  • 2018: An SEC record-tying nine women's soccer teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament with seven moving on to at least the second round.
  • 2019: LSU became the first 15-0 team in SEC history, defeating Clemson in the CFP National Championship Game in New Orleans.
  • May 2019: For the third consecutive year, the Southeastern Conference had all 13 programs represent the league in the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament.
  • November 2019: Arkansas wins the program's first NCAA Women's Cross Country title and the league's only national title for the season, as collegiate sports were canceled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. With the win, Arkansas is only the second NCAA women's team to accomplish the three-season triple crown.
  • April 24, 2021: Kentucky won its first NCAA title in women's volleyball with a 3-1 victory over Texas in the National Championship match of the 2020 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament in Omaha, Neb. The Wildcats became the first SEC program to win a National Title in volleyball.
  • July 30, 2021: The SEC announced that the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas will become members effective July 1, 2025, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2025-26 academic year.

Sport Sponsorship

The first SEC champions were crowned in 1933 in baseball, basketball, football and outdoor track. The league's inaugural championship event was a basketball tournament in Atlanta, Feb. 24-28, 1933. Records show the first men's team title for cross country was awarded in 1935, while golf and swimming were added in 1937. The league later began hosting championships in tennis (1938) and indoor track (1957).

In the 1979-80 academic year SEC championships for women were recognized in basketball, tennis and volleyball. The following year golf, gymnastics, swimming and track & field were added. Soccer was added in 1993 and softball began SEC play in 1997. The administration of women's athletics officially came under the auspices of the conference office on Sept. 1, 1984.

In 1993, the member institutions adopted The Principles of Gender Equity. Committed to increasing the quantity and quality of women's athletic opportunities, each school provides at least two more women's intercollegiate programs than the number of men's teams on each campus.

The conference approved equestrian as its 21st sponsored sport for the 2012-13 academic year.

SEC All-Time National Championships
Men's - 139
Women's - 115
Coed - 4
TOTAL - 258

SEC National Championships Since 2000
Men's - 67
Women's - 72
Coed - 4
TOTAL - 142

*Note: NCAA National Champions only with the exception of football and equestrian.

SEC Commissioners
1940-1945 Martin S. Conner
1951-1965 Bernie H. Moore
1966-1971 A. M. Coleman
1972-1985 H. Boyd McWhorter
1986-1989 Harvey W. Schiller
1990-2001 Roy Kramer
2002-2015 Michael L. Slive
2015-Present Greg Sankey