New England Small College Athletic Conference Colleges

on August 8, 2017

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is an association of 11 private liberal arts colleges in New England, spread throughout the states of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. The conference stresses the importance of integrating strong athletics and higher education, aiming to produce an athletic program at each college that strikes a balance between sports and academics.


Colleges from the NESCAC participate in 27 different sports throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons. Since 1971, NECSAC teams have won five national team championships, with 19 individual national championship wins.


The Institutions


The first four NESCAC institutions to begin recruiting college athletes were Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University and Williams College, who formed an agreement in 1955 to constitute their own conference. In 1971, Colby College, Bates College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, and Tufts University joined the charter, followed by Connecticut College 11 years later. Today, each college is individually known for fantastic academics. Some are compared to Ivy League schools in terms of prestige and selectivity. The sizes of the student bodies at NESCAC colleges range from 1,700 to 5,100.


Academic Rigor and Campus Culture


Although each NECSAC college has its own campus culture and academic programs, the conference is generally known for its heavy emphasis on intellectual pursuits, student involvement and tradition. Most of the colleges have small, congregated campuses, with academic buildings situated fairly close together in rural or suburban environments. The average NECSAC acceptance rate is about 18 percent. NESCAC campuses also are fairly diverse with generous financial aid opportunities available to applicants.


NESCAC Athletics


Since 1993, NESCAC has been sending teams to the NCAA Division III championships. In 2017, NESCAC announced it would change its previously eight-game football season to a regular, nine-game, round robin schedule. In addition to football, each college has teams for men's and women’s cross country, soccer, golf, basketball, swimming and diving, tennis, lacrosse and rowing. In the 2013-2014 season, nine of the 11 participating schools ranked in the Top 25 for total athletic spending amongst Division III schools.


Prospective Students


All members of the NESCAC conference have agreed to review the application materials of student athlete applicants with the academic reputation and values of the program in mind. Colleges in NESCAC don't offer athletic scholarships, but they do recruit student athletes during their final few years of high school, requiring that they obtain high standardized test scores and meet certain transcript criteria in order to gain acceptance.


Throughout their time at the college, student athletes are carefully monitored in their classes, as athletic coaches and advisors expect that they fully participate in student life and academics during their time at each respective university. If your dream is to be a student athlete, consider the NECSAC colleges.

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