The Little Three is a term started by and used in reference to athletic competition between three private liberal arts colleges in the New England region of the United States: Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
The exact origin of the term Little Three is lost to history, but was used by the three colleges in an allusion to the Big Three, coined in the 1880s to describe the three big universities—Harvard, Princeton, and Yale—which dominated football in the Ivy League. Today, the term is used to define Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams as the three prestigious, academically elite original "Little Ivies", crosscutting the Ivy League universities. The earliest known reference appeared in John Hallahan’s Football in New England Colleges in 1923: "Williams College again won the championship of the Little Three, which includes Wesleyan and Amherst . . ." Little Three championships are contested in 24 sports throughout the academic year. They first joined together as the Triangular League athletic conference in 1899, which lasted only three years before breaking up over an argument concerning the eligibility of college baseball players who received pay during summer league play. In 1910, they formed what is believed to be "America’s oldest, continuous intercollegiate athletic conference without a membership change," which earned another moniker, The Triumvirate.
- The Biggest Little Game in America
- Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium
- New England Small College Athletic Conference
- "The Little Three: Williams • Amherst • Wesleyan". williams.edu. Williams College.
- Duckworth, Henry Edmison (2000). One Version of the Facts: My Life in the Ivory Tower. Univ. of Manitoba Press. p. 93. ISBN 9780887553523. Retrieved July 21, 2018 – via Google Books.