Southwestern Athletic Conference
|Southwestern Athletic Conference|
|Members||10 (12 in 2021)|
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is a collegiate athletic conference headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, which is made up of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Southern United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I for all sports; in football, it participates in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly referred to as Division I-AA.
The SWAC is widely considered the premier HBCU conference and ranks among the elite in the nation in terms of alumni affiliated with professional sports teams, particularly in football. On the gridiron, the conference has been the biggest draw on the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level of the NCAA, leading the nation in average home attendance every year except one since FCS has been in existence. In 1994, the SWAC fell just 40,000 fans short of becoming the first non-Football Bowl Subdivision conference to attract one million fans to its home games.
In 1920, athletic officials from six Texas HBCUs — C.H. Fuller of Bishop College, Red Randolph and C.H. Patterson of Paul Quinn College, E.G. Evans, H.J. Evans and H.J. Starns of Prairie View A&M, D.C. Fuller of Texas College and G. Whitte Jordan of Wiley College — met in Houston, Texas, to discuss common interests. At this meeting, they agreed to form a new league, the SWAC.
Paul Quinn became the first of the original members to withdraw from the league in 1929. When Langston University of Oklahoma was admitted into the conference two years later, it began the migration of state-supported institutions into the SWAC. Southern University entered the ranks in 1934, followed by Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in 1936 and Texas Southern University in 1954.
Rapid growth in enrollment of the state-supported schools made it difficult for the church-supported schools to finance their athletics programs and one by one they fell victim to the growing prowess of the state-supported colleges. Bishop withdrew from the conference in 1956, Langston in 1957 and Huston–Tillotson (formerly Samuel Huston) in 1959, one year after the admittance of two more state-supported schools: Grambling College and Jackson State College. The enter-exit cycle continued in 1961 when Texas College withdrew, followed by the admittance of Alcorn A&M (now Alcorn State University) in 1962. Wiley left in 1968, the same year Mississippi Valley State College entered. Arkansas AM&N exited in 1970 and Alabama State University entered in 1982. Arkansas–Pine Bluff (formerly Arkansas AM&N) rejoined the SWAC on July 1, 1997, regaining full-member status one year later. Alabama A&M University became the conference’s tenth member when it became a full member in September 1999 after a one-year period as an affiliate SWAC member. Most of the former SWAC members that have left the conference are currently a part of the Red River Athletic Conference of the NAIA.
The SWAC is one of three conferences – the others being the Ivy League and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – that does not participate in the FCS football playoffs. The SWAC instead splits its schools into two divisions, and plays a conference championship game. Three of the SWAC's teams, Alabama State in the Turkey Day Classic and Grambling and Southern in the Bayou Classic, play their last games of the regular season on Thanksgiving weekend, preventing the SWAC Championship from being decided until the first weekend of December, long after the tournament is underway. The SWAC has occasionally been a participant in bowl games, the most recent being the Celebration Bowl, which features the SWAC as one of its tie-ins.
Current championship competition offered by the SWAC includes competition for men in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, indoor track, outdoor track & field and tennis. Women’s competition is offered in the sports of basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, indoor track, outdoor track & field, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
Current full members
The SWAC comprises ten schools.
UAPB – Arkansas–Pine Bluff was a member of the SWAC from 1936 to 1970 as Arkansas AM&N before re-joining in the 1997–98 academic season, and to gain full member status a year later.
|Howard University||Washington, DC (672,228)||1867||Private||10,300||2014||Bison||soccer (W)||MEAC|
|Florida A&M University||Tallahassee, Florida||1887||Public||10,031||2021||Rattlers (men's)
Lady Rattlers (women's)
|Bethune–Cookman University||Daytona Beach, Florida||1904||Private||4,037||2021||Wildcats (men's)
Lady Wildcats (women's)
|Institution||Location (Population)||Founded||Type||Enrollment||Joined||Left||Nickname||Current Conference|
|Bishop College||Marshall, Texas
|1881||Private||n/a||1920||1956||Tigers||Closed in 19881|
|Langston University||Langston, Oklahoma
|Paul Quinn College||Dallas, Texas
|1872||Private||1,020||1920||1929||Tigers||RRAC/Red River (NAIA)|
|Huston–Tillotson University2||Austin, Texas
|1881||Private||900||1920||1959||Rams||RRAC/Red River (NAIA)|
|Texas College||Tyler, Texas
|1894||Private||600||1920||1961||Steers||RRAC/Red River (NAIA)|
|Wiley College||Marshall, Texas
|1873||Private||1,200||1920||1968||Wildcats||RRAC/Red River (NAIA)|
- - Upon the closure of Bishop College, Paul Quinn College relocated from Waco to Dallas and re-established itself at the Bishop College campus.
- - Huston–Tillotson University was formerly known as Samuel Huston College.
Alcorn State moves to the West Division with the additions of both Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M in 2021.
|East Division||West Division|
|Alabama A&M||Alcorn State|
|Alabama State||Arkansas-Pine Bluff|
|Florida A&M||Prairie View A&M|
|Mississippi Valley State||Texas Southern|
The SWAC sponsors championship competitions in eight men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports:
|Track and Field (Indoor)|
|Track and Field (Outdoor)|
Future members in gray.
Prior to splitting into divisions and using a postseason championship game to decide its overall champion, the SWAC determined its champions by winning-percentage against conference opponents in regular season play.
In 1933 Langston appeared to win the title outright with a 4-0 conference record after the regular season, while Wiley finished 4-1, and Prairie View A&M finished 3-1. Langston was invited to the Prairie View Bowl, which was won by Prairie View. The Panthers subsequently declared themselves SWAC champions even though their claim was based on a postseason game. The SWAC seems to acknowledge both schools' claims to the title in the conference's football media guide, although some other sources including Michael Hurd's Black College Football, 1892–1992: One Hundred Years of History, Education, and Pride (1993) also list Wiley as an additional co-champion, apparently since all three schools had 4-1 records against conference opponents if the postseason game is incorporated into the regular season conference standings.
Prairie View vacated its 1941 championship. No championship was awarded in 1943 due to World War II. Grambling State vacated its 1975 championship due to a violation of SWAC rules for scheduling opponents.
Games from 1999–2012 were played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The conference moved the game in 2013 to NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Starting in 2019, the game will officially be played at the first place team's home. Since 2015, the winner of the SWAC plays the winner of the MEAC conference in an overall HBCU championship bowl game called the Celebration Bowl in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The MEAC gave up its automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs for this game.
Texas Southern vacated its 2010 championship due to violations of NCAA rules.
|2000||Grambling State||Alabama A&M||14-6|
|2001||Grambling State||Alabama State||38-31|
|2002||Grambling State||Alabama A&M||31-19|
|2005||Grambling State||Alabama A&M||45-6|
|2006||Alabama A&M||Arkansas-Pine Bluff||22–13|
|2007||Jackson State||Grambling State||42–31|
|2008||Grambling State||Jackson State||41-9|
|2009||Prairie View A&M||Alabama A&M||30-24|
|2010||Texas Southern (vacated)||Alabama State||11-6|
|2011||Grambling State||Alabama A&M||16-15|
|2012||Arkansas-Pine Bluff||Jackson State||24-21|
|2015||Alcorn State||Grambling State||49-21|
|2016||Grambling State||Alcorn State||27-20|
|2017||Grambling State||Alcorn State||40-32|
Since splitting into western and eastern divisions and using a postseason championship game to decide its overall champion, the SWAC determines its division champions by winning-percentage against conference opponents in regular season play. For the 1999 season only, inter-divisional conference games did not count in the conference standings. Each division's outright champion or top-seeded co-champion advances to the championship game.
Texas Southern vacated its 2010 division championship due to violations of NCAA rules.
|Year||Western Division Champion(s)||Eastern Division Champion(s)|
|2000||Grambling State||Alabama A&M*|
|2001||Grambling State||Alabama State|
|2002||Grambling State||Alabama A&M|
|2005||Grambling State||Alabama A&M|
|2006||Arkansas-Pine Bluff||Alabama A&M|
|2007||Grambling State||Jackson State|
|2008||Grambling State||Jackson State|
|2009||Prairie View A&M||Alabama A&M|
|2010||Texas Southern* (vacated)
|2011||Grambling State||Alabama A&M*|
|2012||Arkansas-Pine Bluff||Jackson State*|
|2015||Grambling State||Alcorn State|
|2016||Grambling State||Alcorn State|
|2017||Grambling State||Alcorn State|
Note: an asterisk denotes the division's top-seeded co-champion and representative in the SWAC Championship Game; a double-asterisk denotes that the division's co-champion was ineligible for the SWAC Championship Game due to a violation of SWAC rules that were in effect from 2011 to 2014 concerning APR scores.
Starting with the 2021 season with the additions of both Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M, the football schedule is as follows:
- Each school plays eight conference games (five divisional, three non-divisional) and rotates three teams from the opposite division every two years.
- The SWAC Championship Game rotates between the two division champions at campus sites. The East Division champion hosts in even-number years, and the West Division Champion hosts in odd-number years.
- The SWAC champion advances to the Celebration Bowl versus the MEAC champion. The loser ends its season.
The semi-final and championship SWAC Basketball Tournament games are held at the Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. As of the 2017 tournaments, they feature an eight-team three-day layout with the quarterfinal rounds hosted on campus sites. This changes the previous 10-team, five-day tournament format. The higher seeded teams will host a combined eight games leaving two days for travel and practice rounds. The tournament concludes with the semi-finals and championship rounds inside Birmingham's Bill Harris Arena. Winners of the tournaments earn automatic bids to their respective NCAA Division I Tournaments. The championship games are nationally televised live annually on an ESPN network.
Men's basketball tournament performance by school
|Southern||1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 2006, 2013, 2016|
|Texas Southern||1990, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2021|
|Alcorn State||1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1999, 2002|
|Jackson State||1978, 1991, 1997, 2000, 2007|
|Mississippi Valley State||1986, 1992, 1996, 2008, 2012|
|Alabama State||2001, 2004 2009, 2011|
|Prairie View A&M||1998, 2019|
|1981–1982||Jackson State||Sadie Magee||Jackson State||Sadie Magee|
|1982–1983||Jackson State||Sadie Magee||Jackson State||Sadie Magee|
|1983–1984||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Jackson State||Sadie Magee|
|1984–1985||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Jackson State||Sadie Magee|
|1985–1986||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker|
|1986–1987||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs||Mississippi Valley State||Jessie Harris|
|1987–1988||Mississippi Valley State||Jessie Harris||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs|
|1988–1989||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs||Alabama State||Ron Mitchell|
|1989–1990||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs||Jackson State||Andrew Pennington|
|1990–1991||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker|
|1991–1992||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker|
|Mississippi Valley State||Jessie Harris|
|1993–1994||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs|
|Jackson State||Andrew Pennington|
|Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs|
|1996–1997||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs||Grambling State||Patricia Bibbs|
|1997–1998||Grambling State||David Ponton||Grambling State||David Ponton|
|1998–1999||Grambling State||David Ponton||Grambling State||David Ponton|
|1999–2000||Grambling State||David Ponton||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker|
|2000–2001||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker|
|2001–2002||Southern||Sandy Pugh||Southern||Sandy Pugh|
|Alabama State||Freda Freeman-Jackson|
|2003–2004||Alabama State||Freda Freeman-Jackson||Southern||Sandy Pugh|
|2004–2005||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker||Alcorn State||Shirley Walker|
|2006–2007||Prairie View A&M
|Prairie View A&M||Cynthia Cooper-Dyke|
|2007–2008||Prairie View A&M||Cynthia Cooper-Dyke||Jackson State||Denise Taylor|
|2008–2009||Prairie View A&M||Cynthia Cooper-Dyke||Prairie View A&M||Cynthia Cooper-Dyke|
|2009–2010||Southern||Sandy Pugh||Southern||Sandy Pugh|
|2010–2011||Southern||Sandy Pugh||Prairie View A&M||Toyelle Wilson|
|2011-2012||Mississippi Valley State||Nate Kilbert||Prairie View A&M||Toyelle Wilson|
|2012-2013||Texas Southern||Cynthia Cooper-Dyke||Prairie View A&M||Toyelle Wilson|
|2013-2014||Southern||Sandy Pugh||Prairie View A&M||Dawn Brown|
|2014-2015||Alabama State||Freda Freeman-Jackson||Alabama State||Freda Freeman-Jackson|
|2015-2016||Alabama State||Freda Freeman-Jackson||Alabama State||Freda Freeman-Jackson|
|2016-2017||Texas Southern||Johnetta Hayes-Perry||Texas Southern||Johnetta Hayes-Perry|
|2017-2018||Southern||Sandy Pugh||Grambling State||Freddie Murray|
|2018-2019||Southern||Carlos Funchess||Southern||Carlos Funchess|
This is a list of the last 10 SWAC Baseball Tournament champions. For the full history, see Southwestern Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament.
SWAC marching bands
Marching bands have a rich tradition being a centerpiece of pride and school spirit for each institution in the conference. Furthermore, the competitiveness, prestige, pageantry, and showmanship of SWAC marching bands significantly add to the unique identity and culture of the conference.
|Southern||Human Jukebox||Fabulous Dancing Dolls|
|Jackson State||Sonic Boom of the South||Prancing J-Settes|
|Texas Southern||Ocean of Soul||Motion of the Ocean|
|Prairie View A&M||Marching Storm||Black Foxes|
|Alabama State||Mighty Marching Hornets||Sensational Stingettes|
|Alcorn State||Sounds of Dynomite||Golden Girls|
|Arkansas-Pine Bluff||Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-South (M4)||Golden Girls|
|Grambling State||GSU Tiger Marching Band||Orchesis Dance Company|
|Alabama A&M||Marching Maroon and White||Dancin' Divas|
|Mississippi Valley State||Mean Green Marching Machine||Satin Dolls|
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