April 14, 2023 | SPORTS | By Kendall Accetta
In February of this year, the Colorado College Women’s basketball team played the No. 1 ranked Division III team in the country and beat them.
The crowd in Reid Arena was electric that afternoon. CC fans were on their feet for the entire last quarter, and when CC finally won, beating Trinity University 70-64, fans rushed the court.
Charlotte Furman ’23 recalls the game fondly. “Watching that game where CC beat Trinity… it was the first time I felt like we went to a school with real school spirit,” Furman said.
The excitement of Colorado College defeating Trinity was augmented by the long history of rivalry between the two schools in the championship. The last two Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball championship games were played between Trinity and CC, with Trinity winning six championships within the last ten years.
The rivalry also exists between the other CC teams who are in the SCAC and Trinity, including swimming, diving, volleyball, cross country, track and field, tennis, and men’s soccer.
Greg Capell, senior Athletic Director for Colorado College, said of the rivalry, “Trinity was never [CC’s] official rival, it just sort of evolved. Probably because if you look across all the sports, we are highly competitive in all of them, and so is Trinity”.
However, this rivalry between CC and Trinity will soon come to an end. Trinity, joined by Southwestern University, will be leaving SCAC in the fall semester of the 2025-2026 academic year.
Both schools have been competitive in the conference since they joined in the early 1990s. In the swimming championships, for example, the top three teams are consistently Trinity, Southwestern University, and Colorado College. The same rings true for women’s volleyball, where, for the last ten years (with Texas Lutheran’s upset in 2022 being the exception), Trinity, CC, and Southwestern exclusively have been ranked in the top three at the end of the season.
Men and women’s cross country has gone back and forth with Trinity for the past decade, and the men’s soccer team played Trinity in the SCAC championship game this past fall.
When the news broke about the changing makeup of SCAC, both coaches and players had questions about why teams were leaving and the implications for the future of their sport in the conference. Would SCAC be getting more competitive teams to replace Southwestern and Trinity? Is there a chance that Colorado College follows both Trinity and Southwestern to the Southern Athletic Association for athletics? Why did Trinity and Southwestern leave in the first place?
The answers to these questions are still emerging. Caleb Reed, a sports reporter for Trinity, explained that a primary motivation for Trinity’s decision to leave SCAC was to have all 20 of Trinity’s sports in the same conference.
Reed writes that “when the SCAC stopped sponsoring football in 2017, Trinity returned to the SAA and revived the rivalries that spanned back to the 1970s when Trinity joined the conference.” Soon, all of Trinity’s sports will get to return to SAA similarly.
When Trinity expressed interest in moving all their teams to the SAA conference, the conference responded that it would be very difficult to do so without two new teams joining. This way, there would be an even number of schools in the SAA and head-to-head games would be easier to plan. Since Southwestern’s football team already plays in the SAA, it made sense for the university to be the one joining Trinity in the departure.
There has been no indication that any other school in SCAC will attempt to leave the conference with Southwestern and Trinity University. When asked about why CC plans to remain in SCAC, Capell cited geographical convenience.
“Since Colorado College is the only division three school in Mountain Time, competition is going to require a plane ride anywhere,” Capell said. “Texas provides a pretty great option.”
“The biggest difference between conferences is going to be the time commitment and financial commitment,” said Cameron Hill, head coach for the Trinity women’s basketball team. “We’re going to travel more with more flights and there’s going to be an extra day between games. We’re going longer, which means you need to think about the academic component.”
CC Athletics will not need to worry about these extended visits to states such as Kentucky and Georgia, both included in the SAA, if they stay in SCAC.
Additionally, Capell touched on the possibility of new teams joining the SCAC in the next few years. McMurry University, a private Methodist university in Abilene, Texas, is already confirmed to be joining SCAC in the 2024-2025 academic year.
Cappel also shared that there are “conversations going on among athletic advisors about new schools joining, there are probably about 15 schools on the list right now that seemed like they could be decent options.” He was unable to share the names of the schools for privacy reasons.
Although the future of the SCAC conference is somewhat uncertain, athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators are somewhat saddened by the news of Trinity and Southwestern’s departure.
Clare Quinn ‘23, a senior on the cross country and track and field teams, said, “I’m definitely sad that the CC and Trinity rivalry will no longer exist in the conference, they’ve been our main source of competition in cross country and distance track events.”
Capell spoke about the administrative effect of the leave, saying, “I’m disappointed because I respect the people at those schools. The [athletic directors] are great people and not being in the same room with them is gonna be disappointing.”