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A History of the Southern Conference

Duke University football coach Wallace Wade at practice in the 1930s. Duke was a member of the Southern Conference from 1928 to 1953.
Duke University Archives
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Flickr
Duke University football coach Wallace Wade at practice in the 1930s. Duke was a member of the Southern Conference from 1928 to 1953.

In the winter of 1921, fifteen prominent colleges and universities met in Atlanta, Georgia, to form a new organization to promote intercollegiate athletics competition. That organization, soon to become known as the Southern Conference (SoCon), remains a strong and viable member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 100 years later. Southern Conference roots may be found throughout college athletics from the Mid-Atlantic region to the deep South. All but three of the current Southeastern Conference (SEC) members once belonged to the Southern Conference. Likewise, a majority of present Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) institutions formerly were SoCon members.

This time on Walter Edgar’s Journal, former SoCon commissioner John Iamarino, author of A Proud Athletic History: 100 Years of The Southern Conference (2021, Mercer University Press), tells the story of the notable athletes, coaches, and athletic programs that have built such a rich tradition over so many decades. Legendary sports figures such as Jerry West, Arnold Palmer, Bear Bryant, Sam Huff, and Steph Curry are all part of the Southern Conference's past.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.