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What is SCIAC and Where Do We Fit In?

December 13, 2013

What is SCIAC and Where Do We Fit In?
by Ben Turner

As likely everyone in Claremont knows, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Athletics represent the three colleges of Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College. This amalgamated athletics team competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), a league which many students, even at participating schools, tend to know little about. The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was formed in 1915 with five founding institutions. These five schools were Caltech, Occidental, Pomona, Redlands and Whittier. Since its inception, however, Occidental and Redlands are the only ones to have uninterrupted membership.

SCIAC offers 11 sports for women and 10 for men. Women can compete in basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo. Men can compete in the same sports, with the exception of volleyball and lacrosse (both played at some schools at the club level) and with the inclusion of football.

The 9 current member schools, and their mascots, are the California Institute of Technology Beavers (CalTech), California Lutheran University Kingsmen and Regals (CalLu), Chapman University Panthers, University of La Verne Leopards, Occidental College Tigers, University of Redlands Bulldogs, Whittier Colllege Poets and of course CMS and Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens.

Interestingly, earlier incarnations of other colleges and universities were members of SCIAC, including UCLA (then known as the Southern Branch of the University of California) in 1920 and UCSB in 1931 (then known as Santa Barbara State Teachers College).

SCIAC is a Division III conference. Division III or D3 is, according to the NCAA website, "the largest division in terms of number of schools and number of participants[...] which comprises more than 170,000 student-athletes at 444 mostly smaller institutions." The philosophy of Division III  is summed up fittingly by 3 D's: Discover, Develop and Dedicate. The NCAA website describes the priorities of DIII schools and athletes further, stating: "Academics are the primary focus for Division III student-athletes. The division minimizes the conflicts between athletics and academics and keeps student-athletes on a path to graduation through shorter practice and playing seasons, the number of contests, no redshirting and regional competition that reduces time away from academic studies. Student-athletes are integrated on campus and treated like all other members of the general student-body, keeping them focused on being a student first."

Finally, for students not aware of the NCAA, it is the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which "maintains three divisions to offer 'level playing fields' for the smallest liberal arts colleges and the most committed and funded major-university athletics programs."

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