New England Small College Athletic Conference
DivisionDivision III
Sports fielded26 (men's: 13; women's: 13)
RegionNew England
HeadquartersHadley, Massachusetts
CommissionerAndrea Savage (since 1999)

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is an NCAA Division III athletic conference, consisting of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities located in New England and New York. Often referred to as the "Little Ivies", most of the schools have competed against one another since the 19th century.

The idea for such an athletic conference originated with an agreement among Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University and Williams College drafted in 1955.[1] In 1971 Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Union College joined on and NESCAC was officially formed. Today's sustaining members include all the original members but Union, which withdrew in 1977 and was replaced by Connecticut College in 1982.


NESCAC schools share a similar philosophy for intercollegiate athletics. The Conference was created out of a concern for the direction of intercollegiate athletic programs and remains committed to keeping a proper perspective on the role of sport in higher education. Member institutions believe athletic teams should be representative of school's entire student bodies and hew to NCAA Division III admissions and financial policies prohibiting athletic scholarships while awarding financial aid solely on the basis of need.[1] Due to the prestigious reputations of its member schools, the NESCAC is able to attract many of the most athletically and intellectually gifted student-athletes in the country.

NESCAC members stress that intercollegiate athletic programs should operate in harmony with the educational mission of each institution. Schools are committed to maintaining common boundaries to keep athletics strong yet in proportion to their overall academic mission. Presidents of each NESCAC institution control intercollegiate athletic policy.

Conference tenets are usually more restrictive than those of the NCAA Division III regarding season length, number of contests and post-season competition.

The schools are all well-regarded academically. It should be noted that with the exception of Tufts, which is included in the USNWR "National Universities" list, the numbers in the table below represent the rank of the institution in the U.S. News & World Report list of "National Liberal Arts Colleges".

Institution USNWR Category USNWR Rank Class of 2018 Acceptance Rate[2][3]
Amherst College Liberal Arts 2 13.0%
Bates College Liberal Arts 19 23.7% (2017)
Bowdoin College Liberal Arts 5 14.9%
Colby College Liberal Arts 15 26.0% (2017)
Connecticut College Liberal Arts 45 36.2%[4]
Hamilton College Liberal Arts 15 25.9%
Middlebury College Liberal Arts 7 17.3%
Trinity College Liberal Arts 45 31.1% (2017)
Tufts University University 27 17.2%[5]
Wesleyan University Liberal Arts 15 23.2%
Williams College Liberal Arts 1 18.2%

Member schoolsEdit

Current membersEdit

The league currently has 11 full members:

Institution Location Nickname Founded Founding Religious Affiliation Enrollment Joined
Amherst College Amherst, Massachusetts Lord Jeffs 1821 Congregationalist 1,817 1971
Bates College Lewiston, Maine Bobcats 1855 Free Will Baptist 1,769 1971
Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine Polar Bears 1794 Congregationalist 1,777 1971
Colby College Waterville, Maine White Mules 1813 Northern Baptist 1,838 1971
Connecticut College New London, Connecticut Camels 1911 Methodist 1,911 1982
Hamilton College Clinton, New York Continentals 1793 Presbyterian 1,864 1971
Middlebury College Middlebury, Vermont Panthers 1800 Congregationalist 2,507 1971
Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bantams 1823 Episcopalian 2,344 1971
Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts Jumbos 1852 Universalist 5,138 1971
Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut Cardinals 1831 Methodist 2,870 1971
Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts Ephs 1793 Congregationalist 2,124 1971

Former membersEdit

Institution Location Nickname Founded Founding Religious Affiliation Enrollment Joined Left Current Conference
Union College Schenectady, New York Dutchmen (men's)
Dutchwomen (women's)
1795 Non-denominational 2,220 1971 1977 Liberty

Membership timelineEdit

Connecticut CollegeWilliams CollegeWesleyan UniversityUnion CollegeTufts UniversityTrinity College (Connecticut)Middlebury CollegeHamilton College (New York)Colby CollegeBowdoin CollegeBates CollegeAmherst College

Conference championshipsEdit

The NESCAC holds conference championships in the following sports:

Conference sports
Cross Country
Field hockey
Ice hockey
Swimming & Diving
Track and field

Football SchedulingEdit

Due to the fact that there are 10 football-playing schools in the NESCAC, but only 8 regular season games, NESCAC football teams rotate their opening opponents on a two-year cycle.[6]

School Rotating Opponent 1 Rotating Opponent 2
Amherst Bates Hamilton
Bates Amherst Trinity
Bowdoin Middlebury Williams
Colby Trinity Williams
Hamilton Amherst Tufts
Middlebury Bowdoin Wesleyan
Trinity Colby Bates
Tufts Hamilton Wesleyan
Wesleyan Middlebury Tufts
Williams Bowdoin Colby

NESCAC schools always end the year against the same opponent, typically their biggest rival. These five matchups (listed with the home team in odd years first) are: Hamilton-Bates, Tufts-Middlebury[1], Trinity-Wesleyan[2] Bowdoin-Colby[3], and Williams-Amherst.

NCAA Division III competitionEdit

Four NESCAC institutions are among the 39 that founded the NCAA in 1905: Amherst, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Williams.[7]

Prior to 1993 NESCAC generally did not allow member schools to send teams to NCAA championships. Since then all sports except football have had this freedom, many excelling in the NCAA Division III championships. The NACDA Directors' Cup, awarded since 1996 to the college or university in each NCAA Division that wins the most college championships, has been claimed at the Division III level by a NESCAC institution every year except 1998. In the 2012-2013 season, four of the top ten NACDA Director's Cup institutions were from NESCAC: Williams (1), Middlebury (3), Amherst (6), and Tufts (8).[8]

In addition to the ban on post-season play, the NESCAC football league is notable for member teams playing conference games only. While some Division II and Division III teams play only conference schedules, NESCAC is unique in all of its members playing only conference games.

Middlebury leads NESCAC in total National Championship teams, winning 32 titles since the conference lifted its ban on NCAA play. Williams is second with 25 NCAA championships, Tufts next at 21.[9]

Conference venuesEdit

School Football Basketball
Stadium Capacity Arena Capacity
Amherst Pratt Field 8,000 LeFrak Gymnasium 2,450
Bates Garcelon Field 3,000 Alumni Gymnasium 750
Bowdoin Whittier Field 9,000 Morrell Gymnasium 2,000
Colby Harold Alfond Stadium 5,000 Wadsworth Gymnasium 2,500
Connecticut Non-football school N/A Luce Fieldhouse 800
Hamilton Steuben Field 2,500 Margaret Bundy Scott Field House 2,500
Middlebury Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium 3,500 Pepin Gymnasium 1,200
Trinity Jessee/Miller Field 6,500 Oosting Gym 2,000
Tufts Ellis Oval 6,000 Cousens Gym 1,000
Wesleyan Andrus Field 5,000 Silloway Gymnasium 1,200
Williams Weston Field 10,000 Chandler Gymnasium 2,900

Athletic spendingEdit

The U. S. Department of Education publishes statistics on athletic spending by colleges.[10] In 2008-09, athletic spending by NESCAC schools was as follows:

School Athletic Spending Div III rank Amount per Student Div III rank # Varsity Athletes Div III rank
Amherst $4,787,882 12 $2,821 5 525 38
Bates $3,935,033 19 $2,215 21 610 18
Bowdoin $4,107,899 14 $2,393 10 626 13
Colby $4,102,759 15 $2,221 19 624 14
Connecticut $2,948,418 53 $1,699 46 477 63
Hamilton $2,557,165 69 $1,395 90 563 28
Middlebury $4,926,939 8 $2,043 24 654 10
Trinity $4,469,160 13 $2,049 23 610 19
Tufts $3,365,255 30 $672 266 728 5
Wesleyan $4,067,608 16 $1,480 75 586 22
Williams $4,891,702 9 $2,466 7 793 2

Eight (out of eleven) NESCAC schools rank in the top 20 of Division III for total athletic spending. With the exception of Connecticut College, all NESCAC schools rank in the top 10% of Division III for # of varsity athletes. Connecticut College athletic spending and # of varsity athletes are low because it does not have a football team. Tufts per-student athletic spending is low because it has nearly double the undergraduate population (5,100) of its nearest NESCAC rival (Wesleyan, with 2,700).

Related athletic conferencesEdit

Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams are also the members of the Little Three conference. Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby are also the members of the CBB conference.

Notable alumniEdit


NESCAC schools currently count four Major League Baseball general managers among their collective alumni.




External linksEdit

Template:NCAA Division III hockey conferences

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