History, Identity, Membership

The New England Small College Athletic Conference consists of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities. Its members are committed first and foremost to academic excellence and believe that our athletic programs must always support our educational mission. Presidents of the member institutions exercise control of athletics at both the institutional and conference level to ensure that we remain true to our core values.

The Conference was formed in 1971 and was based upon an agreement among Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College first drafted in 1955. Along with these four institutions, Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College and Tufts University are the sustaining charter members. Connecticut College was welcomed into the Conference in 1982.


The primary mission of the Conference is to organize, facilitate, support, and regulate intercollegiate athletic competition among member institutions in a manner consistent with our commitment to our core values.

Core Values

In pursuing our collective purpose, the Conference and its individual members strive to adhere to the following core values: 

  • We are committed first and foremost to academic excellence and our athletic programs must always support our educational mission;
  • Athletics should teach and promote life skills including fair play, respect, preparation, teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, and resilience;
  • We are committed to promoting the safety, health, and wellness of student athletes;
  • Student athletes and our athletic programs should be representative of our student bodies as a whole, both at the point of admission and in their academic performance and outcomes;
  • We are committed to gender equity, diversity, and inclusion of historically marginalized groups including LGBTQ+ students in our athletic programs and throughout our institutions, and recognize that achieving these goals requires intentional commitment and persistent effort; 
  • Athletic programs, including athletes and coaches, should be integrated into the broader life and fabric of our campuses.  We expect that student athletes will participate in the educational, co-curricular, and social opportunities made available to all our students, and equally assume leadership roles on campus;
  • Our institutions should provide a comprehensive athletic program available to the entire student body, not just varsity athletes, and which emphasizes participation and the educational, social, and personal development values of athletics;
  • We are committed to providing equitable and fair competition among members of the conference, and to observing the highest ethical standards in the conduct of all Conference activities and in the interactions among member institutions;
  • We are committed to providing only need-based financial aid for athletes, consistent with the requirements of Division III of the NCAA.

Operating Principles

In the pursuit of our primary mission and in keeping with our core values, the Conference has a number of core operating principles: 

  • Intercollegiate athletic policy at each institution reflects the primacy of our academic mission;
  • In all sports, Conference members give primary emphasis to in-season competition; college sponsored out-of-season activities are limited to conditioning exercises and may not involve sport-specific coaching staff;
  • The Conference and member institutions manage regular season competition and postseason play in a manner that minimizes conflicts with class schedules and examinations;
  • Limits are placed on the number of contests, as well as on the starting and terminal dates for competition, in order to maximize opportunities for students to participate in other activities, including possibly another varsity sport, and to encourage proper perspective on the role of athletics;
  • The Conference encourages and facilitates information-sharing among members in the interest of equitable competition and adherence to our core values.

Adopted by the NESCAC Presidents April 25, 2018