Founded June 23, 1987
(Founded as the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference)
In June of 1987, the presidents of six private Indiana colleges and universities announced the formation of an athletic conference to allow their students to "live out" the ideal of the scholar athlete. The announcement came after 19 months of meetings among the institution's presidents, athletic directors, and faculty athletic representatives.
Announcing the formation of the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis were the following:
Dr. Robert A. Nicholson, President, Anderson College
Dr. Robert G. Bottoms, President, DePauw University
Mr. William B. Martin, President, Franklin College
Dr. John E. Horner, President, Hanover College
Dr. William P. Robinson, President, Manchester University
Dr. Lewis S. Salter, President, Wabash College
The ICAC was formed as an "academic" athletic conference, combining outstanding private education with top-notch intercollegiate athletics. Lewis Salter was President of Wabash College when the league was formed. According to Salter:
"Perhaps the most important common ground to be shared by the member institutions of an athletic conference is their sense of the importance of academics. These six Indiana colleges share a history of concern for academic standards, and view their students as scholars first and athletes second."
The greatest advantage of the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference is that its formation allowed schools to restore athletic rivalries that date back to the 1800's. Conference sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, football, soccer, tennis, and track. In addition, a championship is decided in the non-mandatory sports of swimming and wrestling. John Horner, President of Hanover College when the ICAC was born, said:
"One of the great difficulties which institutions face in playing out-of-state opponents is that the competitive bond between the institutions is not strong. When the opponents come from the same state, the competitive factor, not only for the players but also for alumni and friends becomes greater."
On May 24, 1988, just less than one year after its formation, two more of Indiana's premier small colleges, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Taylor University joined the league, bringing the total number of schools to eight. Taylor was involved in the ICAC's first meetings in the spring of 1987, but declined membership until 1988.
1990-91 marked the first complete season of competition among all eight schools in all eight-varsity sports with soccer joining the picture in the fall of 1990.
The 1992-93 school year brought with it much discussion and many meetings in an attempt to bring women's teams into the ICAC. After a long year of planning and a constitutional rewrite, women's teams joined the ICAC late in the 1992-93 school year with 1993-94 the first year of co-ed competition within the ICAC. Interestingly, Wabash FAR Joe O'Rourke was the president of the league when women were voted into the ICAC, though O'Rourke comes from the only single sex institution in the ICAC. Anderson FAR Cindy Peck served as the first female president of the league for the 1993-94 school year. Jim Mannon of DePauw then held the rotating presidential position during the 1994-95 school year, followed by Thomas Hodge of Franklin in 1995-96, Stan Totten of Hanover in 1996-97, and Dave Krepps of Manchester in 1997-98 and 1998-99. The president for 1999-2000 was Georgana Taggart of Mount St. Joseph, followed by Doyle Lucas of Anderson in 2000-2001, J. Denny Weaver of Bluffton in 2001-2002, David Cassel of Hanover in 2002-2003, Daniel Fulks of Transylvania in 2003-2004, and Scott Armacost of Franklin in 2004-2005. The current president of the league is Steve Sondergaard of Defiance.
The 1998-99 school year brought significant changes in the conference. With the additions of Bluffton College, the College of Mount St. Joseph, and Wilmington College and the departure of DePauw University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference changed its name to become the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. As an extension of the ICAC, the HCAC is an eight school academic athletic conference, which represents a revised version the old Hoosier-Buckeye Conference.
The 1999-2000 school year saw yet more changes. Wabash's competition in the 1999 football season marked its last involvement in the HCAC. Defiance College [OH] joined the league, beginning competition in the spring of 2000.
In January of 2001, Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, was accepted as a member. Transylvania began competition in the fall 2001 season.
In July of 2006, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, was accepted as the conference's ninth member. Rose Hulman began competition in the fall of 2006.
The HCAC hosted a "Decade of Excellence through Athletics" Celebration at the Westin Hotel, in Indianapolis, Indiana on Monday, April 13, 2009. The luncheon capped off a year-long celebration of the HCAC's 10th anniversary and was attended by 240 individuals.
As part of a year-long celebration in 2008-09, the league celebrated its 10th anniversary as the restructured HCAC. The league adopted a special anniversary logo (pictured left) and as part of the celebration, a male and female "Athlete of the Decade" were honored from each institution. (Click for PDF)
Each institution invited campus administrators, faculty, faculty athletic representatives, current or former athletic staff, alumni, and student-athletes. Also, the conference office invited current and former conference personnel, NCAA Division III select staff, and other key supporters of the HCAC.
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Bernard Franklin, Executive Vice President of the NCAA Membership & Student Athlete Affairs.
Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana was accepted as the 10th member of the conference in October of 2009 and began competition in the fall of 2010.
On the playing field, HCAC member schools have had a national impact, highlighted by national champions in several sports and two schools making trips to the NCAA Division III basketball Final Four in the 1990s.
The league continues to seek growth and excellence on and off the playing field in the years to come.