Emory & Henry celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) during halftime of the home football game against Catholic University of America (DC).
According to the ODAC’s website, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) is one of the nation’s largest Division III conferences. The 17-member ODAC, including three associate members, stands as the second-largest multi-sport NCAA Division III conference in the country. The league was formed on May 18, 1975 as the Virginia College Conference and began operations in September of 1976. (The name change to Old Dominion Athletic Conference became effective January 1, 1976).
Charter members were eight colleges located in the state of Virginia: Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Lynchburg College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College and Washington and Lee University.
From its initial year of operation through the 1981-82 academic year, the ODAC sponsored competition in 10 men’s varsity sports, including football, soccer, and cross country in the fall; basketball, wrestling, and indoor track and field in the winter; and baseball, golf, tennis, and outdoor track and field in the spring. Women’s sports were added prior to the 1982-83 school year.
Today, the ODAC has grown to sponsor championships in 24 sports (11 men and 13 women) and houses 11 full-time coeducational institutions with three single-gender schools making up the current 14 full-time members. The conference expanded in the late 1980s, early 1990s and most recently in 2012.
Virginia Wesleyan became the 13th member of the conference in 1988 and began full-scale competition in the league in the 1989-90 academic year. Guilford College, voted into the conference in the spring of 1990, and began competing for conference championships in the 1991-92 season.
The Catholic University of America (DC) was accepted for associate membership in football on January 12, 1999. Greensboro College and Notre Dame of Maryland University were voted into the conference in the sport of swimming, effective 2011-12 academic year. Shenandoah University became the 14th member of the league in the summer of 2012, and began competing for conference championships in 2012-13.
Over the past 23 years the conference and the City of Salem, Va., have gained national attention through hosting six NCAA Division III championships in football, men’s basketball, softball, baseball, women’s lacrosse and volleyball. The growing list of titles passed out in Salem began in the fall of 1993 with the DIII Football Championship.
Through the 2015-16 academic year, the conference and city have hosted 64 NCAA Division III Championships since the ‘93 Stagg Bowl. This year, the two will serve as hosts to the DIII football, men’s basketball and softball.
Emory & Henry has ODAC championships for Women’s Basketball, Softball, Football, and Women’s Tennis. The 1976 Emory & Henry football team was the first NCAA DIII non-scholarship team at Emory & Henry.
The 1985 football team was the first to win an ODAC Championship. The 1986 football team was the first E&H football team to see NCAA playoff action. Members of all three teams were recognized during the November 5th football game against Catholic.
– Olivia Kinser